Before squaring off against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday, Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said he hoped moving Jose Bautista into the leadoff spot would give his scuffling club a bit of a spark.
With the Blue Jays averaging just 3.64 runs per game this month, Gibbons aggressively reconfigured his lineup for Wednesday’s clash at Globe Life Park, notably bumping Bautista to the top of the batting order, and the immediate results were staggering. Against veteran right-hander Tyson Ross, the Blue Jays exploded for six runs on five hits in the top of the first, sending nine hitters to the plate in what proved to be their most productive inning of the campaign thus far.
In addition to moving Bautista into the leadoff spot – displacing the scuffling Kevin Pillar (who got the night off) – Gibbons also swapped Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak in the order, putting the potential All-Star first baseman into the cleanup spot, and moved up the hot-hitting Steve Pearce.
“Whatever it takes to help us win games,” Bautista told Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling before Wednesday’s game. “And whatever it takes to do what (the coaching staff) believe puts us in the best position to win games daily. I think that’s everybody’s goal here. And I’m certainly no different. So, whatever we’ve got to do.”
Moving forward, on top of having Bautista lead off with Smoak hitting cleanup, the Blue Jays will also have catcher Russell Martin, who boasts a .376 on-base percentage in 2017, bat second in front of Josh Donaldson.