MINNEAPOLIS -- In an effort to spark their slumping offense, the Blue Jays have vaulted outfielder Jose Bautista to the top of the order for the first time since 2010. He singled off Twins starter Ervin Santana to open the game, then grounded out in the third, lined out in the sixth, walked in the eighth and grounded out in the 10th inning of Toronto's 3-2 win in extras.
Bautista entered Thursday night's series opener against the Twins having hit third in 41 of his 42 games this season, with his other appearance coming in the two-hole. He has batted leadoff 103 times in his career but has spent much of his career with Toronto hitting third.
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"Hopefully, it's going to change the way that teams are attacking us," Bautista said. "I think it's going to play well into people's roles and the specific skill sets on this team. I'm getting pitched tough and I'm getting walked a lot. And I'm sure [Josh] Donaldson would love to hit with people on base. And Edwin [Encarnacion] would, too."
Toronto entered Thursday on a five-game losing streak and ranked ninth in the American League in runs scored. The Blue Jays scored a total of seven runs in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Rays at Rogers Centre earlier this week.
"It was in the air, a couple of days, having a conversation about it, and really it boils down to just trying to kick-start this offense," bench coach DeMarlo Hale said. "There's some hitters with some track records that we're just trying to kick-start and maybe put them in a different situation, a different mind-set, and see where it works."
When it comes to track records, Bautista has one of the finest when it comes to hitting at Target Field, where he has mashed Twins pitching over the years. He is hitting .362 with 11 homers and 17 RBIs in 69 at-bats over 17 career games here since the Twins moved in prior to the 2010 season.
"There's the walk element, the on-base element. ... We can dissect a lot of numbers and come up with some formulas," Hale said. "I think it's just easier to say, 'Hey, we're trying to change it up, create a different mind-set, maybe different situations for guys to be in,' and see if that will help us. We're just trying to jump-start this offense."
Dan Myers is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Blue Jays on Thursday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.