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05/05/12 10:00 PM ET

Blue Jays rotation emerging as strength

ANAHEIM -- The Blue Jays opened the year with a lot of uncertainty in their starting rotation, but as the season reached its one-month mark on Saturday it has emerged as an early strength.

Toronto began the season with No. 5 starter Dustin McGowan on the disabled list and with presumed No. 3 Brett Cecil in the Minor Leagues. That created an opening for Kyle Drabek and rookie Drew Hutchison, and the group as a whole has exceeded expectations.

Blue Jays starters entered play on Saturday ranked second in the American League in both ERA (3.30) and innings pitched (168 1/3). It has been a surprise to most people but not necessarily manager John Farrell.

"We spoke in Spring Training and talked about the potential. The talent was clearly there, and [we had] guys we felt confident in, even though they were untested," Farrell said. "At the time we were hopeful that through those challenges [in 2011] they learned some things about themselves along the way. And through the first 27 games, the starting rotation has not only been consistent, but you could point to it as being one of the strengths of this team so far."

In the first two games against the Angels, Toronto received shutouts from both Brandon Morrow and Henderson Alvarez. It marked the first time that the Blue Jays had experienced that type of success in back-to-back games since 1993, when Jack Morris and Al Leiter accomplished the feat for a team that eventually went on to win the World Series.

Both starters managed to go the distance in efficient fashion as Morrow required just 102 pitches and Alvarez only 97. The key to the overall success has been an ability to consistently throw strikes early in the count, which helped take advantage of an Angels team that isn't exactly known for its patience at the plate.

"It's rare to be on the road and throw back-to-back shutouts, but you can't take anything away from what those guys have done," Farrell said. "Those weren't because of some fluke things that didn't go their way. We played some very good defense behind both Brandon and Henderson, but they pitched exceptionally well.

"They threw a lot of first-pitch strikes, they were down in the strike zone for the most part, extremely efficient. Against an aggressive swinging club and they forced the hand, they threw strikes early in the count and by doing that they were able to get through nine innings efficiently."

Bautista, Lind searching for solutions

ANAHEIM -- The Blue Jays entered play on Saturday having won four consecutive games and six of their past seven, but most of that success has come without a lot of production from their No. 3 and No. 4 hitters.

Jose Bautista and Adam Lind are still looking for a prolonged period of production at the plate as each player entered Game 3 of a four-game series hitting under .200 for the year.

Both players are experiencing some frustration during the early stages of the year but seem to be struggling in different ways. At times, Bautista has been overly aggressive, while the club feels Lind has been a little too patient.

"At the beginning of the year, I wasn't really swinging the bat the way I'm capable," said Lind, who entered play Saturday hitting .195 with one home run and seven RBIs. "I mean, I was having good at-bats, seeing pitches, being a bit passive I think, but I had a talk with the staff and they said we don't care about walks anymore, go up there and swing hard."

Lind spent a large portion of last season being too aggressive at the plate. Blue Jays manager John Farrell felt Lind would get himself out on occasion by chasing pitches out of the strike zone.

The 28-year-old Lind has rectified that problem a little bit this season but might have overcompensated as the club feels some hittable pitches are going by as the first baseman attempts to get into deep counts.

"We want him to make an impact with the bat," Farrell said. "That's going to come through driving the baseball and that's going to come by being aggressive, particularly when he gets into leverage counts or advantage counts. That doesn't mean to expand the zone, that means look at an area and turn the bat loose.

"We want guys to go in, hit first, slam on the brakes if a pitch is outside the zone, and I think he has been a little bit in between a little bit of the times."

The opposite problem has been happening to Bautista, who has expanded the strike zone. Bautista is normally the most patient hitter in Toronto's lineup but has gone through long periods of time this season not getting a pitch to his liking.

"I'm trying to have good at-bats," Bautista said after hitting his fifth home run of the season on Friday night. "It's just that I'm not seeing many pitches over the heart of the plate. I'm seeing strikes, but they're just really good pitchers' pitches in the corners, and it's hard to take advantage when that's happening."

Davis returns to lineup

ANAHEIM -- Rajai Davis made his return to the Blue Jays lineup on Saturday night after suffering a left hip flexor injury earlier in the week.

Davis had been out since being removed in the fourth inning of Wednesday's game. He was cleared to play Friday night but was given an extra day.

"He has bounced back from the slight strain that he felt the other night," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.

Davis is currently the Blue Jays' fourth outfielder but has managed to get into 19 games this season because of his overall versatility. The native of Connecticut has been used as a pinch-runner or late-inning replacement but also frequently starts against left-handed pitching.

That was the case on Saturday night with Angels southpaw C.J. Wilson on the mound. Davis is a career .288 hitter against lefties, and that track record seems to have given him most of the playing time off the bench over fellow reserve outfielder Ben Francisco.

"I think Rajai is a very good defender, and you look at his career numbers vs. left-handers and it's been solid," Farrell said. "When you have five outfielders, there's probably a skill set that might matchup better in certain situations.

"I don't want to say it's redundant, because I think Ben is a very good pinch-hitter and can sit and come off the bench and DH after four, five days down and produce a low-maintenance type of swing. He's done just that for us."

Davis is hitting .207 (6-for-29) with three extra-base hits and three stolen bases this season. He is a career .272 hitter with 13 home runs and 161 RBIs.

Worth mentioning

• Left fielder Travis Snider was expected to return to the lineup in Triple-A Las Vegas on Saturday night after missing a week because of a wrist injury. Snider was scheduled to go through batting practice prior to the game, and if all went well he was set to be activated off the seven-day disabled list.

• Blue Jays manager John Farrell said that veteran infielder Omar Vizquel might receive his first start of the season at shortstop on Sunday's series finale in Anaheim. Vizquel has appeared in just five games this season.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.