Revamped lineup paying quick dividends

Bautista, in leadoff spot for first time since '10, hits 1 of 4 HRs vs. Twins

Revamped lineup paying quick dividends

MINNEAPOLIS -- For the second consecutive day, the Blue Jays went with a revamped lineup that places a bulk of its heft near the top of the batting order.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, who returned from a three-game suspension on Friday, said he was pleased with the early returns from Thursday, when Toronto unveiled a new-look lineup with Jose Bautista in the leadoff spot for the first time since 2010. Then the Blue Jays went out and hit four home runs, including a three-run shot by Bautista, in a 9-3 rout of the Twins.

Toronto snapped a five-game losing streak on Thursday, then won consecutive games for the first time since May 9-10 with Friday's victory.

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"You win the game, you always think it looks good," Gibbons said.

Josh Donaldson, Michael Saunders and Darwin Barney also homered in Friday's win.

"You can't expect us to go out and score nine or 10 runs a game. It's obviously nice that we did," Saunders said. "We hit our homers tonight, but we had guy on when we did. I don't think we'll ever go through a drought where we're not driving the ball. We just need those runners on when we do get those hits."

Donaldson's two-run blast

Gibbons said he and his coaching staff had been kicking around the idea of shuffling the lineup for several days. As Toronto's losing streak mounted and the offence struggled in a three-game series sweep against the Rays earlier this week, Bautista came to his manager and offered to move to the top.

Saunders' solo homer

"One thing you do in this game, and all the teams do it, when you hit stretches where you're struggling, different things, especially offensively, the big thing is how do you construct your offence? It's more under a microscope now than probably ever in the history of the game," Gibbons said. "So we've been talking about different things, if we adjust this, adjust that. You've got to remember, too, you get certain guys that hit in certain spots and they're very good at it. It's not as easy as everybody thinks to do it."

Barney's solo homer

Any initial concern about taking away thump from the middle of the order was quickly dispelled by Gibbons, who highlighted the ability of the bottom of the batting order last season to get on base, rolling it over for the guys at the top.

Now, the hope is the bottom of the Toronto lineup can get going in similar fashion, giving the Blue Jays ample opportunity to knock in runs with perhaps their three best run producers hitting at the top.

"Those guys were creating a lot of opportunities for [Josh] Donaldson in that two-spot [last year]," Gibbons said. "That is important. But you know [Bautista] gets on base, and let those guys behind him drive him in."

Bautista's leadoff single

Worth noting

• Second baseman Devon Travis had three hits in his first rehab game with Triple-A Buffalo on Thursday and was in the leadoff spot for the Bisons again on Friday.

Travis had a pair of offseason surgeries on his shoulder and hit .357 in four games with Class A Dunedin before advancing to Buffalo.

Travis hit .304 with eight homers and 35 RBIs in 62 games as a rookie last season. He is expected to return to the Blue Jays sometime around June 1.

• Blue Jays Minor League outfielder David Harris was suspended 76 games for testing positive for Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide 2 (GHRP-2), a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Harris was hitting .183 with a homer and 10 RBIs in 21 games with Class A Dunedin this season. He hit .256 with six home runs, 37 RBIs and eight stolen bases in 82 games between Dunedin and Class-A Lansing in 2015.

Dan Myers is a contributor to and covered the Blue Jays on Friday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.