The Canadian Press
TORONTO–The rather staid Rogers Centre crowd briefly came to life in the ninth inning last night when Toronto’s Jose Bautista stepped into the batter’s box in a one-run game against Kansas City reliever Mike Minor.
The 35,861 fans in attendance were hoping for another dramatic moment from a slugger who likely is playing his final homestand as a Blue Jay.
Instead, Bautista met the same fate as almost all of his teammates on this night as Minor got him to pop up to third base to preserve a 1-0 victory.
“His teammates want him to go out with a bang, there’s no doubt about that,” said Jays’ manager John Gibbons.
“We’ve all seen him do it many a time,” he noted.
“I know everybody is rooting for him.”
Starter Jason Vargas and four relievers combined on a two-hit shutout as Kansas City (75-77) tries to hang on to its slim playoff hopes in the American League.
The Royals remain 3.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins, 12-1 winners over Detroit last night, for the second wild-card spot.
Bautista was hitless in four at-bats and had his average fall to .203.
Dropping the rubber game of the three-game set guaranteed Toronto (71-82) will finish the season with a losing record.
The Jays close out their home schedule this weekend with a three-game series against the N.Y. Yankees.
Vargas (17-10) issued three walks but kept the Toronto bats quiet over 6 1/3 innings with the roof open on a warm evening.
Kendrys Morales reached on a soft single in the second inning while Darwin Barney generously was given a hit in the fifth when Melky Cabrera couldn’t squeeze a flare in right field.
“He definitely was lights out tonight,” Royals’ manager Ned Yost said of Vargas.
Cabrera drove in Alex Gordon with a two-out single in the third inning off Toronto starter J.A. Happ for the game’s lone run.
Royals’ relievers Peter Moylan, Ryan Buchter, and Joakim Soria preceded Minor, who worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his second save.
“Obviously we didn’t hit a lick, that’s for sure,” Gibbons said.
Happ (9-11) allowed one earned run, seven hits, and two walks while striking out six.
“You always want to finish strong,” the veteran southpaw said. “I definitely feel strong right now with the life on the ball.
“So you’d like to carry that, finish out the year strong, and hopefully bring that confidence into the following season.”
Elsewhere in the AL, Baltimore beat Tampa Bay 3-1, Cleveland downed the L.A. Angels 4-1, Chicago upended Houston 3-1, and Texas doubled Seattle 4-2.
Over in the NL, Atlanta beat Washington 3-2, L.A. nipped Philadelphia 5-4, St. Louis topped Cincinnati 8-5, Chicago downed Milwaukee 5-3 (10 innings), and San Diego blanked Colorado 3-0.