Bo Bichette has put up PlayStation numbers over his first two weeks in the big leagues, leaving fans in Toronto and across baseball in awe. The one group not surprised by the 21-year-old's destruction of opposing pitching: The denizens of the Buffalo Bisons' clubhouse.
"For me, it's not that amazing," Bisons outfielder Jordan Patterson said of his former teammate before Tuesday's homestand opener against Toledo in Sahlen Field. "We talked about it in here that he's one of the guys you think that might happen to. We're not surprised because he's such a special player. When you see some of the stuff he does, it's not a surprise. We know what he has in him. It's just special that other people get to see it now."
After a 4-for-6 night for the Blue Jays in Monday's 19-4 thrashing of Texas, Bichette's numbers heading into Tuesday's game against the Rangers were astounding.
• In 15 games with Toronto, Bichette was batting .394 with 11 doubles, four home runs and eight RBIs. He had a .444 on-base percentage, .742 slugging percentage and an eye-popping OPS of 1.187.
• Since joining the big-league roster on July 29, the shortstop entered Tuesday's game atop the majors in hits (26), doubles (11) and extra-base hits (15).
• Bichette is the first player in major-league history to rap 15 extra-base hits over the first 15 games of his career and set an all-time record with a double in nine straight games. His 15-game on-base streak is the longest in team history to begin a career, far ahead of Aaron Hill’s nine-gamer in 2005.
"I'm so happy for him," said Buffalo manager Bobby Meacham. "I'm sure he's enjoying it and it's a lot easier to play when you start out well and feel you belong right away. He kind of picked up from what they saw of him in spring training. He just continues to get better and better."
Bichette was called up during the third inning of Buffalo's July 29 game in Durham, pulled off the field by Meacham when Gil Kim, Toronto's director of player development, called Bisons trainer Bob Tarpey in the dugout. Tarpey summoned Meacham to the tunnel and the manager took over the conversation.
"I said to Gil, 'You want me to get him out of the game right now? He's out at shortstop,' " said a smiling Meacham. "He goes, 'Yeah, get him out as soon as we can.'
"So we got an out, I called time and walked out and told him to come in to make sure we didn't have a situation where he gets called up and something goes wrong just then. I know how I felt when I first got called up. You can't understate it. It's every little kid's dream."
The phone call also created one of the great spontaneous moments in recent Bisons history. Pitcher Tayler Saucedo – a teammate of Bichette in the minors for four straight years – pounded his glove on the mound and Bichette got hugs and high-fives in the dugout. Buffalo relievers in the bullpen sprinted down the line to get their congratulations in as well.
"It was pretty cool. I've never been a part of something like that in the middle of a the game," Saucedo said. "Things stopped for a second and at first, I was wondering if somebody batted out of turn or something but then I saw right away they were pointing at Bo and I knew the deal. It was great. I've been with him since (Class A) Lansing. He's a great player and you knew it was coming, but to do it in the middle of a game like that was pretty special."
"A great teammate, great dude, even better person than he is as a player," said Patterson. "To see him enjoy that moment in that setting was really cool to see."
Meacham said he was particularly proud of his team in that moment.
"It says a tremendous amount about Bo and the people around him too, to be honest with you," Meacham said. "... They saw him working his tail off to fulfill a dream just like them. For me as a manager, watching it was really, really cool because that's not something you stage. You don't tell anybody to do that. That's just the kind of people they are. They realized something special was happening to somebody that's been a big part of what they're doing."
"He was awesome to be around and that's why those bullpen guys ran down because they were so happy for him," Saucedo said. "To get that call at such a young age is really special and that's why those guys wanted to run down to say their goodbyes and 'good lucks.' "
Bichette broke a bone in his left hand when he was hit by a pitch during an April 22 loss at Syracuse and missed nearly two months. He returned to the Herd on June 13 and batted .284 with seven homers and 24 RBIs in 41 games with Buffalo before being called up. He was particularly hot in June, batting .333 with a .932 OPS.
The Bisons were 26-17 with Bichette back on the roster but entered Tuesday just 5-8 since he left and have yet to win back-to-back games in August.
The Bisons were on a 5-1 run when Bichette returned to the lineup and then won 10 of their next 12 with him, producing a 15-3 burst that sent Buffalo from fifth place in the International League North into second. They've been there since June 20, one of their longest stretches pushing in the division's high-rent district since Toronto's first year as parent in 2013.
"We were going good and he got thrown into it so we knew he couldn't do anything but help us," Patterson said. "Whatever we had going, he was going to make us better. He hit the ground running with us when we were playing good."
Bichette's in-game departure was also a prime lesson that the game moves on without interruption. The time for celebration was brief. There was no big postgame send-off. Bichette was packing up and heading for the airport to catch his flight to Kansas City for his big-league debut.
And the Bisons, remember, were still only in the third inning of an eventual 4-0 victory.
"My mind immediately was going, 'I've never seen that before. This is really cool Bo is going up and I'm so happy for him,' " Saucedo said. "But then you've got to stop and it's more like, 'Oh, wow. Shoot. I've still got two outs to get this inning.' The game went on."