04/25/12 7:57 PM ET
Club scoring plenty despite lack of consistency
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
Entering Wednesday, Toronto ranked fourth in the American League with 83 runs despite having not received the expected results from the heart of its lineup through the first 17 games.
"We're still finding out rhythm offensively, yet we're fourth in the league in runs scored and we haven't even yet, I think, clicked for any stretch of games," manager John Farrell said.
"Runs are still the most important thing and yet I'd like to think when the middle of the order becomes a little bit more consistent in the overall production, we've got a chance to make some additional noise."
Jose Bautista is searching for prolonged success at the plate and despite drawing 14 walks, he entered play on Wednesday batting just .200 with three home runs.
The same could be said for Eric Thames, Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus, who have all shown glimpses of the high-end talent they possess, but have yet to put it all together in a collective effort.
Despite some of the prolonged struggles, the Blue Jays ranked sixth in on-base percentage (.320), 8th in on-base percentage plus slugging (.720) and have been somewhat saved by a .341 average with runners in scoring position.
"It ebbs and flows a little bit," Farrell said of his club's offense. "I think there are times when guys come to the plate, we're in a one-run game and one swing of the bat can turn the scoreboard over, you might see that become a little bit bigger with the swing at times.
"But I think the fact is that we've drawn the third-most walks in the American League, we're doing some things to build innings and create opportunities."
Lind returns to cleanup spot; Encarnacion sixth
BALTIMORE -- Blue Jays manager John Farrell opted for yet another change in his batting order before Wednesday night's game against the Orioles.
One day after appearing to indicate Edwin Encarnacion was the club's new cleanup hitter, Farrell made several changes in the lineup behind Jose Bautista.
Encarnacion was dropped to sixth, while Adam Lind returned to the No. 4 spot, where he was followed by Eric Thames.
"It's an alignment that we use," Farrell said. "The lineup that we have today is also one that was used three nights ago in Kansas City. Edwin will be a middle-of-the-order [guy] for us but trying to put together the best combinations to win the game."
Farrell indicated one of the main reasons behind the move was to stack of a pair of lefties high in the order against Orioles starter Jason Hammel. That decision came despite the fact that Hammel's splits are relatively similar against lefties and righties.
Hammel entered the game having allowed lefties to hit .288, compared to .281 for righties, but left-handers did possess an OPS that was 58 points higher. Farrell appears willing to tinker with the lineup relatively often, but said he's not about to make drastic changes.
"I think it's important to note that we're roughly 60 at-bats in for all of our regular players," Farrell said. "By no means is it looking to create wholesale changes at this point, no. Guys have earned the right to be where they are in the lineup and while some guys creep up a little bit, it's not so much riding the hot hand, it's looking at matchups and where guys have put themselves in the position to climb in the order somewhat."
Thames takes series-opening loss hard
BALTIMORE -- Lots of people inside the Blue Jays' clubhouse were surprised at how hard Eric Thames took Tuesday night's 2-1 loss to the Orioles, but manager John Farrell wasn't among them.
Thames sat motionless by his locker after the narrow defeat and shouldered most of the blame in an interview later that night with reporters.
The reason behind the internal finger pointing was that Thames attempted to make a leaping catch at the wall during the fourth inning, but instead knocked the ball over the fence in what turned out to be a game-winning home run by Matt Wieters.
Nobody blamed Thames for the loss -- or even for not making the difficult running catch -- but Farrell wasn't caught off-guard by Thames taking the result with so much difficulty.
"As hard as he works and as committed as he is to his craft, [it's] not surprising," Farrell said. "Guys respond differently and in that case, he obviously took it hard. It ends up being the difference in [Tuesday] night's game, which at the time you wouldn't think that would be the case.
"But I thought he made one heck of an effort to get to the ball and unfortunately certain things came together at the right time, where the deflection ends up being a home run and the difference in the ballgame."
Thames' attempted grab came during the same game in which he hit his first homer of the year. The mammoth home run landed on Eutaw St., which is located behind the gates in right field. Thames became just the 58th player to accomplish that feat in Camden Yards' history.
That represented Thames' third extra-base hit in 15 games this season and the Blue Jays hope he can ignore the defensive play and ride some of the offensive momentum through the rest of the week.
"The most important thing is if any player can look themselves in the mirror and know they gave everything they had in between the lines on a given night," Farrell said. "There's never been any question that Eric does that. I think the most important thing is to not get too beat up mentally because of it.
"That's just the type of person he is, he plays the game very hard and he does whatever he can to prepare himself to contribute in the course of the game."