After a disappointing six-game road trip, Toronto (75-74) opens a three-game series Tuesday night against the league-worst Seattle Mariners.
Bautista failed to homer in his fourth straight game Sunday, going 0 for 4 in the Blue Jays’ 6-0 loss to Boston.
With a franchise-record 49 home runs, the slugger is one shy of becoming the 26th player in history to reach the 50-homer mark. Prince Fielder(notes) (50) and Alex Rodriguez(notes) (54) last accomplished the feat in 2007.
Bautista’s previous season high was 16, which he amassed in 2006 with Pittsburgh. He has two home runs in 39 career at-bats against the Mariners.
Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki(notes) also has a chance to reach a milestone in this series, as he remains seven hits short of reaching 200 for the 10th straight season. Ichiro leads the league with 193 hits.
“It’s amazing what he can do,” second baseman Chone Figgins(notes) told the Mariners’ official website. “He’s able to get all kinds of hits, from balls he barely touches to home runs, and that’s why he gets 200 hits every year.”
Despite Ichiro’s success, the Mariners (57-92) are an AL-worst 22-50 on the road, where they have lost four straight and nine of 11.
The left-hander allowed four runs and six hits over seven innings Tuesday in a 9-6 loss to Boston but left without a decision. He has never faced Toronto.
The left-hander picked up his only win of the season Aug. 13, when he limited the Angels to two hits over seven innings in a 3-0 victory. He is 0-3 with a 7.33 ERA since that win.
Rzepczynski did not receive a decision in his only start against the Mariners, allowing three runs over 5 1-3 innings with eight strikeouts July 28, 2009.
Toronto, which has lost eight of 11, hopes to have second baseman Aaron Hill(notes) available in the series opener. He has missed the last two games after getting hit by a pitch on his right wrist Friday.
“We have to just take it one day at a time,” manager Cito Gaston told Toronto’s official website. “Hopefully he can play Tuesday.”
Hill has 24 home runs and 63 RBIs this season, but is hitting .211, 61 points below his career average.
Sunday’s loss officially eliminated the Blue Jays from playoff contention.
“It’s always disappointing when the playoffs are starting and you’re not one of the teams in it,” second baseman John McDonald(notes) said. “We set out goals of making the playoffs and the World Series.”