TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are about to enter the second half of the season sitting in last place in the American League East and without three of five starters that were on the Opening Day roster.
Entering Monday's action, the Blue Jays were just 2 1/2 games out of the final Wild-Card spot and are the only last place team with a positive run differential. In fact, not one team in the Majors that is in second to last has scored more runs than it has given up.
Remaining competitive through the first portion of the year has largely been a byproduct of the club's offense in the eyes of manager John Farrell.
"We have an outstanding offense, the numbers bear that out," Farrell said. "Our performance has shown that and for a good stretch here, has shown that routinely and consistently."
The bats have been especially hot recently, as the Blue Jays have scored in double digits four times since June 10, after only managing that feat twice in all of their previous games. Over their past five games, the Blue Jays have hit at least two home runs in every contest and are averaging seven runs per game.
Led by All-Star slugger Jose Bautista, and his Major League-leading 26 home runs, the Blue Jays are one of only three teams in baseball to have hit 100 homers -- trailing only the Yankees in that category. Toronto sits third in runs scored, sixth in slugging and seventh in OPS.
Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion have hit more long balls than any duo in all of baseball with 48.
But the offense can only do so much, and with Brandon Morrow, who was morphing into the team's ace, injured, along with youngsters Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison, the Blue Jays have been faced with some early-season adversity.
"We have a very good offense and everyday team, and yet we are still looking for ways to gain consistency on the mound," Farrell said.
Blue Jays pitchers have the third-highest ERA in the AL and are second from the bottom in the AL in opponents' slugging and OPS.
"To a man, I don't think they think anything is insurmountable in terms of a challenge thrown their way," Farrell said. "We have had the need to make changes because of those injuries and it has caused some unsettledness with the pitching staff. Of late, the offense has clearly been a strength. Pitching side of it, we are working through some challenges to find the right combinations on a given night."
One positive for the staff is that Morrow has begun a throwing program, and although no date has been set for his return, the news is encouraging for a rotation that has been grinding during his absence.
Rasmus enjoying success in No. 2 spot
TORONTO -- A hot month in June has turned Colby Rasmus' season around, and the fans have let him know about it.
During the Blue Jays' weekend series with the Angels, Rasmus made a sensational diving catch running towards the outfield wall to rob Albert Pujols of extra bases. Rasmus led off the following inning, and walked up to chants of "Colby," which he also received the following day as well.
Rasmus is turning into a fan favorite in Toronto and has been one of the club's hottest hitters since manager John Farrell inserted him into the No. 2 spot in the order.
In 25 games since, entering Monday's contest, Rasmus is hitting .312, with six doubles, nine homers, 28 RBIs and a .974 OPS. In 53 games before he made the switch on June 5, Rasmus was batting just .227 with six homers and a .708 OPS.
"He does some things at the plate right now that you wouldn't think would be the norm because of how close he is to the plate," Farrell said. "He's been outstanding in that two-hole."
In addition to moving up in the batting order, Rasmus also moved up in the batter's box, and changed his stance to become more upright, while opening up and crowding the plate.
Farrell has been impressed with Rasmus' output since the adjustments.
"I think when he moves up on the plate, it simplifies his approach," Farrell explained. "He's not trying to work the ball all over the various parts of the field. We've seen a lot of right-handers try a backdoor breaking ball and he has a much clearer read on that pitch to lay off it.
"What's really surprising is that he is able to pull his hands in and get to really good fastballs on the inside part of the plate."
Rasmus showed that in Sunday's loss, by crushing an upper deck three-run homer on a 96-mph fastball from Angels reliever Jordan Walden.
The home run was Rasmus' 15th of the season, which eclipsed the 14 he hit last year in 51 fewer games and 203 fewer plate appearances.
One scorching month is a small sample size after Rasmus struggled in Toronto in 2011 and over the first two months of the season. But it appears that with a new stance, approach -- Rasmus is pulling the ball with a lot more frequency -- and position in the order, Rasmus is morphing into a new player. Or perhaps, just the player the Blue Jays thought he would be when they acquired him in a mid-season deal with the Cardinals last year.
"I think we have got the real Colby Rasmus this year," Farrell said. "He feels comfortable, his abilities have played out routinely. He's an exciting player and he's in a very good place."
Toronto designates Pauley, promotes Carpenter
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays designated right-handed reliever David Pauley for assignment following Monday's 11-3 loss to the Royals.
Pauley worked three innings in Monday's game, hitting a batter and allowing a grand slam to Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas.
The 29-year-old Pauley, who the Blue Jays claimed off waivers from the Angels on June 20, made five appearances with Toronto and allowed at least one run in each of his past three outings. Pauley has a 6.48 ERA and 1.92 WHIP.
To fill his spot on the 25-man roster, the Blue Jays selected the contract of righty Drew Carpenter from Triple-A Las Vegas.
Over 21 games, including 12 starts with the 51s, Carpenter went 6-3 with a 3.38 ERA and 56 strikeouts over 74 2/3 innings.
Carpenter, who began the year in the bullpen, has allowed two earned runs or fewer in seven of his past 10 starts.
Selected in the second round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft by the Phillies, Carpenter has appeared in 17 career Major League games with Philadelphia and San Diego.
Snider could be Toronto's lefty bat option
TORONTO -- Manager John Farrell has made clear throughout the season about his desire for another left-handed bat.
If the recently recalled Adam Lind can rediscover the power stroke he once flashed in a Silver Slugger Award year in 2009, perhaps that could negate the need.
But one player from within the organization that could help provide some power during the second half is 2006 first-round Draft pick Travis Snider.
Snider lost out on the starting job in left field to Eric Thames during Spring Training, and then after beginning the season on a tear with Triple-A Las Vegas, Snider sustained a wrist injury at the end of April that forced him to the disabled list.
Another wrist injury put him to the DL again in May, but Snider is once again back and producing in the Pacific Coast League -- a place he has become all too familiar with over the past years.
Snider has struggled during the brief times he has been given an opportunity in Toronto, and terrorized Minor League pitching when he has been down below. Farrell wouldn't speculate on when or if Snider will be up soon with the Blue Jays, but the skipper said the possibility certainly exists.
"Consistency from Travis is the No. 1 thing," Farrell said. "Players are going to tell you when they are ready to come here, and players are going to force their way to the big league team. That's not to say he won't be here at some point."
Farrell said one of the biggest things right now which will prevent any changes to the position players, is that the team has been carrying an extra pitcher in the bullpen. Things could ultimately change, but Farrell also mentioned how well left fielder Rajai Davis has played.
Until the Blue Jays promote him, Snider is likely to continue being a pest to opposing pitchers in Vegas.
Through 41 games with the 51s, Snider was batting .325 with a .403 on-base percentage and a .966 OPS. The 24-year-old has hit eight homers and 42 RBIs.
Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.