Jose Bautista is drawing walks faster than any player since home run king Barry Bonds. The Toronto slugger just isn't getting enough steady production behind him.
Baseball's leader in nearly every offensive category better expect more of the same.
Bautista singled and walked three times to set a Blue Jays season record but was stranded each time in Toronto's 2-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Friday night.
"I take pride in going up to the plate trying to hit balls hard but at the same time I'm trying to swing at strikes, not balls," Bautista said after running his walks total to a major league-leading 102. "A lot of guys are going to try to come after me no matter what but there are times when I know when they're trying to walk me. I don't think that was the case today."
The walks didn't seem to hurt Oakland'S Rich Harden much.
The Canadian pitcher matched his career high with 11 strikeouts, didn't allow a hit until the fifth and combined with closer Andrew Bailey to hand Toronto its fifth shutout of the season.
Bautista walked in the first and third innings, singled in the sixth then walked again in the eighth. He reached 100 free passes in his 113th game, fewest ever by a Blue Jay.
The last major leaguer to reach 100 walks in 115 games or fewer was Bonds in 2007, the San Francisco slugger broke Hank Aaron's career home run record.
"In the past, people attacked the zone more against me because they had more ways to get me out," Bautista said. "Now it seems like sometimes they're nibbling to get ahead with bad pitches and they're falling behind."
Josh Willingham hit a two-run homer to provide all the offence for Oakland, which received a stellar outing from Harden who pitched his way out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the first.
Harden, a native of Victoria, quickly recovered from a shaky start and Willingham's drive in the first off Brett Cecil (4-6) held up as the A's bounced back a day after being shut out 7-0 in the series opener. They won for just the third time in eight games.
Toronto had homered in 12 consecutive games.
Elsewhere in the American League it was: Detroit 4 Cleveland 1; Tampa Bay 3 Seattle 2; Boston 7 Kansas City 1; N.Y. Yankees 8 Minnesota 1; Texas 7 Chicago White Sox 4 and L.A. Angels 8 Baltimore 3.
At Oakland, Calif., J.P. Arencibia singled to left with one out in the fifth for the first hit off Harden (4-2), who recorded his 11th career 10-strikeout game and first since Sept. 5, 2009, at the New York Mets.
"We created a tremendous opportunity for ourselves (in the first)," Toronto manager John Farrell said. "Other than that we didn't create a whole lot. You can take (Harden's) year-long stats and the record and set that aside. When he's on he's as good as anybody we'll face."
Harden won consecutive decisions for the first time this season, and both came against the Blue Jays. He pitched seven strong innings at Toronto on Aug. 9.
Harden struck out 11 for the fourth time. He last did it on July 31, 2009, at Florida while with the Cubs. Oakland (56-69) avoided falling to a season-worst 15 games below .500, where the club was Monday. The A's are 3-5 on this 10-game homestand.
Willingham hit his 21st homer with two outs in the first and it was all Harden needed. Willingham's 71 RBIs match the A's season high from last season done by Kevin Kouzmanoff and Kurt Suzuki.
Harden allowed two hits in seven innings and walked four in an impressive 115-pitch outing.
Grant Balfour pitched the eighth and Bailey finished the three-hitter for his 16th save.
Cecil, who lost to Harden and the A's in that Aug. 9 matchup but also won at Oakland on May 10 for his first major league victory, had his winless stretch reach four starts after three straight winning decisions.
Tigers 4 Indians 1
At Detroit, Max Scherzer pitched seven strong innings and the first-place Tigers hit three homers in a 4-1 victory over second-place Cleveland. The Indians could have taken over the AL Central lead with a sweep of the three-game series, but now trail Detroit by 2 1-2 games.
Rays 3 Mariners 2
At St. Petersburg, Fla., Evan Longoria and Ben Zobrist each had run-scoring singles with two outs during the eighth inning as Tampa Bay beat Felix Hernandez.
Red Sox 7 Royals 1
At Kansas City, Mo., Jarrod Saltalamacchia pounded out a three-run homer, left-hander Andrew Miller gave Red Sox manager Terry Francona precisely what he was looking for and Boston rolled over the Royals.
Yankees 8 Twins 1
At Minneapolis, Phil Hughes allowed just two hits in 7 2-3 innings and Russell Martin of Chelsea, Que., hit two home runs to lead New York.
Rangers 7 White Sox 4
At Chicago, Josh Hamilton hit a tie-breaking homer in the sixth inning, Mitch Moreland connected for a three-run shot in the fourth and a two-run drive in the sixth, and Texas beat the White Sox.
Angels 8 Orioles 3