TORONTO -- The switch that manager John Farrell has made to the top of the lineup has paid dividends.
Farrell replaced Kelly Johnson at leadoff with Brett Lawrie, and inserted Colby Rasmus into the two-hole in place of Yunel Escobar.
In 21 games since batting leadoff, Lawrie is hitting .310, with 12 extra-base hits -- including three homers -- a .388 on-base percentage and a .916 OPS. The third baseman has also reached base safely in 16 consecutive games entering Thursday's contest against the Angels.
Rasmus, meanwhile, is hitting .337 with eight homers, 24 RBIs, a .652 slugging percentage and a 1.023 OPS.
Farrell had been contemplating the moves for a little while before he decided to give it a try against the White Sox in Chicago on June 5.
"Even prior to that, when Kelly was having a little bit more to deal with in his knee with some soreness, Colby was in the two-hole at times and seemed to flourish -- so that had something to do with it," Farrell said. "Then with Brett, trying to get a little bit more athleticism and speed at the top of the order, I thought it had a chance to change some of the personality we project as a team when we start out a given game."
Farrell thinks that Lawrie injects the team with energy from the first pitch of the game, and this new-look lineup has the chance to stick for a while.
"The top four in our lineup have been outstanding," Farrell said. "What Rajai [Davis] continues to do, and [Adam Lind] coming back -- he's swinging the bat with a lot of freedom. ... Our guys are swinging the bat with confidence."
After early swoon, Bautista raking in June
TORONTO -- After putting his slow start to the season behind him, two-time defending home run champion Jose Bautista is leading the Majors in homers, with 26.
Of the 26, 14 have been hit in June, a club record for the most by a player in any month. It's the most home runs in a single month since Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies hit 15 in September 2010, and is the most from an American Leaguer since Alex Rodriguez's 14 in April 2007.
Bautista's 14 homers, 29 RBIs and 20 walks in June are the most in the Majors. For the season he ranks among the top 10 in the AL in home runs, RBIs, runs scored, walks and slugging.
It's a far cry from the numbers he put up in April, when he hit three homers and recorded nine RBIs and an OPS of just .633.
Manager John Farrell was peppered with questions in April about what was wrong with his All-Star outfielder, and he chalked most of it up to timing. Farrell was never worried about Bautista's slow start and feels that it is more than just getting his timing back that has allowed Bautista to flourish.
"I think there has been times, even when there has been a borderline call not go in his favor, he hasn't kind of thought too much about it," Farrell said. "I think because he is in one of those stretches where he is confident, he knows he is going to get a pitch some time in the sequence that he's going to handle.
"I think that goes hand in hand with the confidence of a given guy. ... He hasn't missed many pitches in the zone."
Bautista is the only player in the Majors who has hit more than 100 home runs -- 123 -- since 2010. He easily leads Albert Pujols, who is the closest, with 91. Over that time period, Bautista also leads all Major Leaguers in walks and runs scored.
Farrell puts Romero's struggles in perspective
TORONTO -- Ricky Romero's struggles were highlighted on Wednesday, when he turned in his worst performance of the season, against the Red Sox.
Romero, who entered the season as Toronto's ace, was tagged for a season-high eight earned runs, walked six, and needed 90 pitches to get through three innings -- his shortest outing of the season.
Manager John Farrell thinks that Romero's struggles can be corrected by slowing down the game and locating his fastball with more consistency.
"The thing we are continuing to emphasise with him is the importance of strikes with his fastball to his arm side," Farrell said. "When he has executed that pitch, that's when he has been able to make some right-handers reach over the outside part of the plate. ... The basic principles apply here, and that's getting strike one, or in some cases, when you have to get back in a count, have an area of the plate where you can go to to get that strike.
"For any left-hander, that's a pitch [where] when executed, they have a chance to be big winners."
So far that has been the case with Romero, despite his 4.94 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. The lefty has an 8-2 record, one year after winning a career-high 15 games in 2011.
Farrell thinks Romero did a great job last season of attacking his arm side of the plate and routinely getting strikes. That helped Romero post a sparkling 2.92 ERA and become one of the top left-handers in the game.
"He's trying, I know that," Farrell said. "I think at times, when thoughts get in the way of a delivery, you are going to have some inconsistencies to execute that. That's when the misfires start to come in."
Farrell says it's something that every player goes through. The mental component of the game, he says, is very real, and he believes it is only human nature that it could affect a player's performance from time to time.
"It has to be back to executing one pitch at a time."
Romero will look to get back on track in his next start, on Monday against the Royals, whom he dominated back in April.
Right-hander Henderson Alvarez threw long toss from flat ground on Thursday. His elbow appears to be fine, and there is nothing to suggest that he won't be ready to pitch Saturday, according to manager John Farrell.
Jamie Moyer, recently signed by the Blue Jays, will make his debut for Triple-A Las Vegas on Thursday.
Catcher Jeff Mathis has started all three games Brett Cecil has pitched this season, as Farrell likes the dynamic between the two.
"In the first two starts they've worked together, I think they have worked very well together," Farrell said. "I know it's not a long run or a large number of starts, but given what the returns have been with both in combination, they are back at it again."
Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.