Rios, Lind have completely opposite days at plate

“Rios starting to round into his usual form”

That was the headline on an MLB.com preview article for Thursday’s series finale against the Angels. Written prior to Wednesday night’s contest at Rogers Centre, the article touched on Alex Rios’ .319 batting average over his previous 11 games and pointed to his 4-for-4 game against the Boston Red Sox on May 30 as evidence of the outfielder’s recent surge at the plate.

And then he quickly regressed.

An 0-for-3, two-strikeout performance Wednesday night was followed up on Thursday by an embarrassing 0-for-5, five-strikeout game Thursday afternoon in a contest the Blue Jays lost 6-5 despite coming back from a 5-1 deficit to tie the game at 5 in the eighth inning.

The five strikeouts dropped his average back to .266. Remarkably, it wasn’t the first time Rios has gone 0-for-5 with 5 K’s. He also accomplished the feat back on July 29, 2006 against the Athletics – just his second game back after returning from a staph infection.

But while the ball must have looked the size of a pee to Alex Rios Thursday afternoon, it looked like a beach ball to Adam Lind. Playing left field, the 25-year-old Lind went a perfect 5-for-5 with three doubles, giving him a league-leading 21 on the season. And he did so hitting out of the No. 4 spot for the first time this year.

That was because Vernon Wells, the regular cleanup hitter, received his first day off after starting each of the first 55 games this year. With Wells struggling for much of the season, it’s not out of the question that these two sluggers could switch spots in the batting order in the near future.

Lind certainly made another case for that on Thursday. He didn’t drive in any runs, but that was only because he wasn’t given any opportunities. Marco Scutaro, Aaron Hill and Rios combined to go 0-for-13 in front of him on the afternoon. Hill is now hitless in his last 20 at bats. In fact, his average has dipped to .316, while Lind’s has jumped to .313, up 30 points over his last five games – he’s hitting a gaudy .600 (12-for-20) during that stretch.

The Blue Jays don’t really have an ideal No. 4 hitter. But it’s looking more and more like they should turn to Adam Lind to fill that spot as opposed to the struggling Wells.

Editor’s Note: So strange were Rios and Lind’s opposite days at the plate Thursday afternoon, that it marked the first time in a nine-inning game in which a player had five hits and a teammate had five strikeouts since the leagues began keeping track of strikeouts in the second decade of the 20th century … courtesy Elias (and a hat tip to Erik Grosman of the Jays’ PR department for pointing this stat out).

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