04/27/08 2:26 PM ET
Gibbons shakes up slumping lineup
Jays have lost six straight, eight of 10 entering Sunday
By Robert Falkoff / MLB.com
With shortstop David Eckstein getting a previously scheduled breather and his team mired in a situational hitting dilemma, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to write out a dramatically different lineup card for Sunday's series finale against the Royals.
Gibbons put Alex Rios in the leadoff spot and moved Lyle Overbay into the No. 2 slot. Scott Rolen hit third, followed by Matt Stairs, Vernon Wells, Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, Rod Barajas and John McDonald.
"Just a different look," Gibbons said.
Gibbons was just hoping to find a spark for an offense that was 4-for-42 with runners in scoring position through the opening five games of the road trip. Asked if he has seen signs of hitters pressing with men in scoring position, Gibbons said: "Yeah, oh yeah. They all want to get it done."
A shining example of the Jays' recent plight occurred in the third inning of Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Royals. Toronto did everything right in terms of fundamental offensive play to place a runner at third with one out in a scoreless game. Eckstein led off with a single, stole second and advanced to third on Hill's flyout to right. No. 3 hitter Rios then chased a Luke Hochevar pitch that was down and rolled the ball to drawn-in shortstop Tony Pena, before Wells grounded out to end the inning.
One inning later, the Jays had a man at third with one out when Overbay bounced out to first and missed the RBI opportunity.
"You end up chasing a pitch out of the zone and you end up getting yourself out a lot," Gibbons said.
Newcomer Lind did deliver a well-hit ball in the eighth with the bases loaded, but his bid for a two-run single was taken away on a brilliant defensive play by Pena.
One way or the other, Gibbons expects the Jays to get through the recent difficulties and begin to prosper. It may be one timely hit that the Jays will look back on as a turning point.
"It doesn't have to be a hard-hit ball," Gibbons said. "It could be a bloop or a little flair."
Robert Falkoff is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.