BOSTON - After a bit of a power swoon in June, in which he hit just four home runs, Jose Bautista is finding himself in one of those grooves again. Heading into play Wednesday, Bautista had homered in four of his previous five games and seven of his past 13. With 28 home runs on the season, Bautista ranks second in club history with the most homers prior to the all-star break. The record of 29 homers was set by George Bell in 1987. Carlos Delgado also slugged 28 homers prior to the all-star break in both 2000 and 2003.
With all the ninth-inning excitement on Tuesday, overlooked was the fact that OF Eric Thames went 0-for-1 while pinch-hitting for Rajai Davis in the eighth inning. The oh-for snapped his hit streak at 10 games, which was the longest hit streak by a Jays rookie since Adam Lind’s 10-gamer in 2007. Over the 10 games, Thames hit .359 (14-for-39) with seven extra-base hits.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Jays manager John Farrell had Davis leading off and had SS Yunel Escobar batting fifth and said he liked that setup as it put speed atop the lineup and slotted Escobar into an RBI production spot. Escobar, recovering from a bruised left hand, was a late scratch from Tuesday’s game but on Wednesday he was in the lineup for the first time since he was hit by a pitch in the first inning of Friday’s game against the Phillies.
Not only was he back in the lineup, he was back batting leadoff, with Davis dropping all the way to ninth. So, why the switcheroo?
“Just with (Jon) Lester on the mound yesterday I wanted to try to build in some speed at the top of the order,” Farrell said. “Yunel’s performance, even though it’s been short against Wake (knuckleballer Tim Wakefield), has been a solid one (3-for-7 with one home run). It’s been a lineup that has been productive for us with him (Escobar) at the top. I wanted to get back to a lineup that we’ve used fairly extensively.”