TORONTO -- Jose Bautista pulled off the kind of play that is rarely seen in Major League Baseball by throwing out a runner at first base on a ground ball to right field.
During the ninth inning of the Blue Jays' 8-6 loss in 10 innings on Thursday night, Royals designated hitter Billy Butler hit a sharp grounder to the right side of the field. The ball easily went past second baseman Steve Tolleson and into right field.
Bautista charged the ball and then fired a strike to Edwin Encarnacion. The throw beat Butler to the bag by at least a foot as first-base umpire Adrian Johnson punched his fist into the air for the out call. It's the type of play that most right fielders wouldn't even bother trying to make and according to Blue Jays manager John Gibbons shows just how high of a baseball IQ that Bautista possesses.
"He's a great defender, he really is," Gibbons said. "He's really known for his offense, but he's one of the best in the game, too, defensively. That's why he's a perennial All-Star. His game awareness is big. He knew [Butler] was running, he doesn't have that much speed and he really charged the ball.
"Jose, people know how good he is, but I'm not sure the baseball world recognizes how good of a defender he is, or how good of an all-around player he is."
The throw to first is something Bautista has tried before in the past but never executed at the big league level. It's also the move that former Expos outfielder Larry Walker made famous in the early 1990s when he turned the throw into one of his signature moves.