TORONTO -- The Blue Jays appear to have settled on designated hitter Adam Lind as their regular cleanup hitter vs. right-handed pitchers.
Edwin Encarnacion began the season in that role, but over the past couple of weeks, he has given way to Lind. That's where Lind found himself in the Blue Jays' 9-6 win on Tuesday night, which marked the seventh time this year he hit fourth. He went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, two runs scored and a home run.
The club's decision certainly doesn't have anything to do with Encarnacion's performance at the plate, because he has been the Blue Jays' most valuable hitter in May. Instead, it has to do with splitting up the right-handed bats and providing some matchup problems for teams late in games.
"I kind of like it, if you can split those guys up. Lindy has been so good, and then you go right-left-right-left," Gibbons said of the Jose Bautista, Lind, Encarnacion and Juan Francisco alignment. "It has to make it tougher on the other side, instead of going right, right, and then you have a couple of lefties back-to-back."
The risk that comes with moving Encarnacion down in the order is that teams could decide to start pitching around him more frequently. That happened to Bautista during the first month of the year, when Encarnacion got off to a slow start.
But that still hasn't been an issue for Encarnacion. He homered again Tuesday night to tie Bautista for the most by any Blue Jays player in a single month with 14. The aggressive approach taken by opposing pitchers has been confusing at times, but Francisco and Brett Lawrie hitting sixth and seventh, respectively, is perhaps causing teams to pause before giving away an at-bat.
"I'm not surprised, because they want to get you out," Encarnacion said when asked about the pitch selection he has seen in recent weeks. "That's why I have to stay aggressive, stay aggressive in the strike zone. If they're going to throw me a strike, I'm going to keep swinging."