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Friday, June 4, 2010
Updated: June 5, 2:15 PM ET
Bautista takes A.J. up, up and away

By Andrew Marchand
ESPNNewYork.com

TORONTO -- Usually, it sounds like Yankee Stadium at the Rogers Centre, but on Friday the chorus made you feel like you were at Shea Stadium circa 2006.

"Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose ... Jose, Jose."

Jose Reyes was nowhere to be found. Instead the fans were honoring American League home run leader Jose Bautista.

For Toronto Blue Jays fans, the guy they suddenly love was beating up the guy they love to hate.

It was Jose Bautista 3, A.J. Burnett 0 after four.

After it was all done, it was Blue Jays 6, Yankees 1. It was 2010 Blue Jays baseball at its best and Burnett at his worst.

In the fifth inning, the No. 9 hitter, Edwin Encarnacion, hit a solo shot that had Burnett immediately shaking his head. Burnett has pitched against better teams on the road, and he has been decidedly worse than at home.

On Friday night, it was six runs -- all earned -- in six innings. The pitches on the home runs were supposed to be down, but instead they ended up being high and far and you know the rest.

The way Burnett looked at it, he made only three mistakes. The problem for him was the home runs were hit so far they looked as if they needed Air Canada boarding passes.

"Fastball counts, and they end up in the happy spot [for the hitters] and that's what they're going to do," said the ex-Blue Jay Burnett, who the fans here love to mock.

Bautista gave the home fans some material. He put two more tattoos on Burnett's heavily inked body. In the second and the fourth, Bautista hit balls that nearly put dents in the second deck. They were his 17th and 18th of the season. Later in the eighth, he spanked a double off the wall against Sergio Mitre.

When Encarnacion went deep, Burnett immediately showed his disgust.

These games are important for the Yankees not so much because Toronto will be a contender in the AL East, but because the Blue Jays very well could determine who actually wins the division and the AL wild card, for that matter.

They are the spoilers the Orioles were supposed to be. When the East and the wild card are decided, it could be because of the Yankees', Red Sox's and Rays' records against the Jays.

So far, the Red Sox have beat down the Jays, taking five of six, while the Rays have won four of six against Toronto. (As good as Toronto looked Friday night, it is basically a .500 team if you take out the 6-0 record against the Orioles.)

On Friday, the Jays used the best power game in baseball, Brett Cecil's fine starting pitching (eight innings, one run) and some defense to limit the Yankees -- especially when it mattered.

The Yankees were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and the one hit, from Derek Jeter, didn't bring home a run.

When Cecil's changeup wasn't fooling with the Yankees' balance, the Jays played great defense. In the fourth, Nick Swisher walked and Mark Teixeira singled, setting up the Yankees four-five-six of Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada.

A-Rod immediately hit a hard grounder that made Jays shortstop Alex Gonzalez scurry to his left. Gonzalez made a sliding stop and wild flip to second, and Aaron Hill bare-handed the toss, made a quick turn and it was in the books as a 6-4-3 double play. The Yankees would score their only run on a Swisher 6-4-3 in the sixth.

By then it was too late. The 30,089 suddenly seemed like they were all Jays fans, even though many of them had Yankees garb on.

The newest folk hero in baseball was Bautista. His 18 home runs are a new career high for him -- it's June, remember -- and the Jays have hit 94 on the season. To put that in perspective, the A-Rod, Teixeira and Cano-led Yankees have 61.

So they chanted, "Jose, Jose, Jose, Jose ... Jose, Jose," and they mocked A.J.

Burnett thought it was just three pitches that got him in trouble. He very well might be right, but his ERA on the road is now slightly under five, while it's just under three at home.

As the games grow more important, this is something to watch. On Friday night, Burnett put the Jays and their fans in a "happy spot" and himself in an unhappy spot.

Game Notes: Cano's 17-game hitting streak ended. Cano said he hopes to starts a new one Saturday. The 17-gamer was the longest in the AL this season. ... Joe Girardi expects to start Brett Gardner in center to give Curtis Granderson a day off, so as not to aggravate his groin on the turf. Granderson made a highlight-worthy catch in the first to rob Hill against the right-center field wall. ... On Saturday, Francisco Cervelli is expected back in the Yankees lineup after Chad Moeller -- who doubled and scored the Yankees' run -- started Friday night. ... With the Jays' win, four of the five best records in baseball are in the AL East.

Andrew Marchand covers baseball for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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