(Sports Network) - Jose Bautista once again tries to put himself into some exclusive company this evening, as he takes another crack at his 50th home run of the season when the Toronto Blue Jays continue their three-game series with the Seattle Mariners at Rogers Centre.
Bautista has blasted a team-record 49 homers this season and is on the verge of becoming the 26th player in history to reach the 50-homer mark. Prince Fielder (50) and Alex Rodriguez (54) last reached the milestone in 2007.
The 29-year-old Bautista, who had not hit more than 16 homers in a season before this year, was 2-for-4 in Tuesday's opener, but stayed in the yard, while Vernon Wells and Travis Snider each hit a two-run homer, as the Blue Jays rolled to a 5-3 win.
Edwin Encarnacion added a solo blast for the Blue Jays, who lead the majors with 232 home runs this season -- 12 shy of matching the club record set in 2000.
Toronto starting pitcher Marc Rzepczynski (2-4) gave up two runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. The left-hander walked three and struck out eight.
Jose Lopez had a pair of RBI singles for Seattle, while Luke French (4-6) allowed five runs on seven hits over seven full frames.
Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki went 4-for-4 and scored two runs. He leads the majors with 197 hits and is now three short of his 10th straight 200-hit campaign.
Suzuki leads the majors with 197 hits and should he end the year as the league leader in that category it would mark the fifth straight year he has done so and the seventh time overall, which would tie Pete Rose and Ty Cobb for most seasons leading the majors in hits.
"He's an outstanding hitter. He's a unique hitter. You don't see a whole lot of guys who have the approach he does," said Mariners interim manager Daren Brown. "But he has outstanding hand-eye coordination. And like I say, he just gets hits. It's been remarkable to watch."
Suzuki also leads baseball with 63 multihit games this season.
Hoping to slow the Japanese superstar down tonight will be young hurler Kyle Drabek, who will be making his second big league start. The centerpiece of the Roy Halladay deal, Drabek made his major league debut last Wednesday in Baltimore and absorbed the loss, as he allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings.
"It kind of felt slow," said Drabek. "To me, it felt like I was taking more time between pitches. It didn't really feel too quick for me. I felt real comfortable."
Opposing him tonight will be righty David Pauley, who has lost his last four decisions. Pauley's most recent loss came last Wednesday against Boston, but he pitched well, surrendering just one earned run in six innings of a 5-1 loss.
Pauley did not get a decision in his only other start against the Jays back in 2006, but was hit hard for six runs and 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings of that outing.
The Mariners and Jays split a two-game set at Safeco Field back in May.