Game Chat: The Blue Jays' Jose Bautista Is Not Your Buddy, Friend

Game Chat: The Blue Jays' Jose Bautista Is Not Your Buddy, Friend

Two years ago, the Phillies actually ended up with 84 home games thanks to the threat of potentially ugly protest at the 2010 G20 summit in Toronto, an event that coincided with a scheduled interleague series between the Phils and Blue Jays, forcing a move out of Canada.

We bring this up because had it not been for that exercise in semi-civil unrest, this would be the Phils' third trip north of the border in as many seasons.

And as you might remember, the guy pictured below the graphic above caused a bit of a problem for Phils pitchers at the former SkyDome last year.

Be afraid of Jose Bautista
Bautista homered in all three games against the Phillies in 2011 -- going yard off Kyle Kendrick, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, respectively -- and as CSNPhilly's Corey Seidman points out in his evening notes, Bautista's current hot streak and Friday matchup versus Vance Worley both prove worrisome:

Jose Bautista is blazing hot right now, owning a .293/.434/.854 line in
June with seven home runs in 41 at-bats. He’s homered in two straight
games and four of his last six.

Bautista is hitting .301 on
pitches low and outside, where Worley’s two-seam fastball breaks back
over the plate. The battle should be fascinating, as Bautista rarely
swings at pitches outside the strike zone and Worley is reliant on using
the corners. The two have never met

So there's that. Great.

On the mound
The aforementioned Worley enters tonight's ballgame 3-2 in nine starts with a 3.00 ERA and exactly one strikeout per inning. He lasted six innings in his last start in Baltimore, giving up three runs that were later deemed unearned in a 6-4 Phillies loss. As for consistency in a starter, only once has Worley gone fewer than six innings this season (6/4 vs. Los Angeles). In fact, he's gone exactly six in six of his nine outings, which naturally begs the question: How much faith do you have in the bullpen for three innings?

Moving on, Toronto turns to 21-year-old Drew Hutchinson, the owner of 5-3 record, but 4.66 ERA. That said, Hutchinson has been much better at home (3-0, 2.42, 1.154) than on the road (2-3, 6.47, 1.500) this season, a bit of an odd occurrence as Toronto is generally considered hitter-friendly.

Charlie's 6/15 lineup
Placido Polanco has been given the night off; Mike Fontenot will fill in at third. Likewise, Juan Pierre returns in left, moving John Mayberry to the bench.

In order:

1. Rollins, SS
2. Pierre, LF
3. Pence, RF
4. Thome, DH
5. Victorino, CF
6. Ruiz, C
7. Wigginton, 1B
8. Fontenot, 3B
9. Martinez, 2B

In conclusion, Canada stuff

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

NEW YORK -- John Wall had 29 points and 13 assists, scoring Washington's final four points in the last 32 seconds as the surging Wizards beat the New York Knicks 113-110 on Thursday night.

Otto Porter Jr. made six 3-pointers for the second straight night and added 23 points, but the Wizards needed big plays from Wall down the stretch to win their fourth in a row.

He made two free throws to put Washington back on top after New York had rallied to take a 110-109 lead, then rebounded Carmelo Anthony's miss and left all the Knicks in his dust as he raced down the floor for a dunk with 13.7 seconds to play.

Anthony finished with 34 points but Wall stole the ball from Brandon Jennings to prevent the Knicks from attempting a 3-pointer that could have tied it (see full recap).

Leonard scores 34 to lead Spurs over Nuggets
SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, rookie Dejounte Murray added a season-high 24 and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a pregame injury to Pau Gasol in beating the Denver Nuggets 118-104 on Thursday night.

Denver's three-game winning streak was snapped despite a career-high 35 points from Nikola Jokic.

Leonard had his fifth straight 30-point performance, right after learning he will start for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season.

The Spurs were unexpectedly without Gasol, Tony Parker and then coach Gregg Popovich. Gasol and Parker were both late scratches due to injury, and Popovich was ejected for the first time this season.

Gasol broke the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand by jamming it against Kyle Anderson's shoulder during pregame warmups while attempting a running hook. The 16-year veteran center immediately clutched his hand and left the court.

X-rays revealed the break, and the Spurs said there is no timeline for Gasol's return.

Irving, James lead Cavs over Suns
CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, All-Star teammate LeBron James had 21 points and 15 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers looked more like themselves at home in a 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

The Cavs were back in Quicken Loans Arena following a six-game road trip (their longest of the season) that concluded with an embarrassing 35-point loss at Golden State. But on their home floor, they had better offensive balance and ball movement while improving to 30-11 -- the same record Cleveland had at the halfway point of its 2016 NBA championship season.

Channing Frye scored 18, Iman Shumpert 17 and James Jones 14 while filling in for star forward Kevin Love, still bothered by back spasms.

Tyson Chandler had 22 points and 16 rebounds, but the Suns lost for the fourth time in five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Jay beagle, Brett Connolly, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams also scored, and Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Winnik each had two assists to help Washington earn at least a point in its 12th straight game (10-0-2) for an NHL-best 66 points.

Braden Holtby bounced back from his roughest outing of the season with 22 saves. Holtby was pulled after giving up a season-high five goals on 26 shots in an 8-7 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday. He improved to 22-8-4 and 5-0 lifetime against St. Louis (see full recap).

Grabner scores 2 goals, Rangers top Leafs
TORONTO -- Michael Grabner scored two goals against his former team, helping the New York Rangers snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller added goals for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves following a series of rough outings.

Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, which had a three-game winning streak stopped. The Maple Leafs had earned 21 of a possible 26 points in their previous 13 games (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

Tavares leads Islanders to shutout of Stars
NEW YORK -- Getting a new coach this week didn't change things much for the Islanders -- and oddly enough, that's a good thing for New York.

John Tavares narrowly missed out on his second hat trick in a week, Thomas Greiss got his second straight shutout and the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night in their first game since firing longtime coach Jack Capuano.

New York canned Capuano in the middle of his seventh season Tuesday, replacing him on an interim basis with Doug Weight (see full recap).

Niederreiter, Wild dodge letdown, edge Coyotes
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nino Niederreiter had two power-play goals and an assist, including the go-ahead score for the Minnesota Wild with 7:06 remaining in a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Thursday night after the Coyotes came back from a two-goal deficit.

With Shane Doan in the penalty box for hooking, Niederreiter knocked in a nifty redirect of Mikael Granlund's slap shot for the winner. Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 shots for the Wild, who are 18-2-2 in their last 22 games.

Louis Domingue made 21 saves for the Coyotes, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 2-12-1 in their last 15 games starting with a 4-1 loss to Minnesota in Arizona on Dec. 17 (see full recap).