Bautista bats cleanup for 1st time since 2015

Travis moves up into leadoff spot for series finale vs. Yanks

Bautista bats cleanup for 1st time since 2015

NEW YORK -- The Blue Jays' struggles on their nine-game road trip prompted a change in the lineup, which saw Devon Travis move into the leadoff spot while Jose Bautista was moved down to become the club's new cleanup hitter for Wednesday's series finale against the Yankees. Travis went 2-for-4 and Bautista went 1-for-4 in a 2-0 loss.

Travis has hit first 24 times this season, but all of those previous games came when Bautista or other prominent hitters were out of the lineup. Bautista got the start in the cleanup position for just the 15th time in his career and first since April 27, 2015.

The 25-year-old Travis entered Wednesday leading the Blue Jays with 54 hits since the All-Star break. He posted 19 multihit games over that span while hitting .318 (54-for-170) over 41 contests.

"Just trying to shake it up, just a hair, that's it," said Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, who kept Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots of the lineup, respectively. "Maybe a little spark. ... Try something new."

Gibbons made the decision to move Bautista down in the lineup as Toronto had dropped four of its last five games. The change is a way to give Travis -- who usually bats ninth -- the possibility of receiving an extra at-bat while moving Bautista into a spot in the lineup where he might be able to drive in more runs.

Since returning from the 15-day disabled list because of a twisted left knee, Bautista is hitting .265 (13-for-49) with three doubles and a pair of home runs while posting an .811 OPS. He struck out 16 times over those games, including eight consecutive games entering Wednesday.

When healthy, Bautista spent a large portion of this year as Toronto's leadoff hitter. In those 40 games, he hit .239 (38-for-159), and nine of his 17 home runs have come out of that spot.

"It gives Jose a little more RBI opportunities, too," said Gibbons, who was then asked if Bautista had a preference on where he was hitting. "No, he didn't care. Remember, he was all for it going into the leadoff spot earlier in the year."

Liriano back on track

Left-hander Francisco Liriano appears to be in the clear after he was sidelined earlier this week because of tightness in his lower back. Liriano was removed from a relief appearance on Monday after two innings because of the injury, but he has since recovered and will be available to pitch out of the bullpen this weekend vs. Boston.

Liriano is also expected to return to Toronto's rotation at some point in the near future for at least an outing or two. It appears likely Liriano will get the ball during the club's upcoming West Coast road trip from Sept. 15-21, but the Blue Jays have yet to officially commit one way or another.

"He feels good," Gibbons said Wednesday. "He should be good to go. You won't see him tonight, but he's fine. We'll determine this weekend what we'll do next week [with the rotation]."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.