BOSTON -- Even as the Blue Jays have surged to their hottest stretch of the season -- 15 wins in 20 games -- their most recognizable hitter, Jose Bautista, is stuck in a bit of a slump.
Primarily batting second, Bautista entered Friday's game vs. the Red Sox batting just .179 with a .250 on-base percentage in June. His usually gaudy power numbers have dropped as well. He has just one home run and two doubles in his previous 14 games (52 at-bats).
"He's cooled off. He's been in a little rut, no question about it," manager John Gibbons said. "But the team's been playing better with him there. I think it's just a matter of time."
Some have suggested moving Bautista to third or fourth in the batting order, especially with Melky Cabrera on the disabled list, but Gibbons pointed to timing issues in Bautista's swing -- not his spot in the batting order -- as the problem. Gibbons also hasn't heard Bautista complain about batting second, and unless he does, a change does not appear likely.
"Personally, I don't think it makes too much difference to be honest with you," Gibbons said.
It's not as if Bautista has been ineffective this season. He's clubbed 16 home runs and 44 RBIs, but the production level hasn't matched the previous years, when he smashed 124 home runs over the last three years.
Nearly halfway into the 2013 campaign, Gibbons is far from worried.
"Everybody's used to seeing all the home runs and all the doubles, driving in a lot of runs, but he's like anybody else," Gibbons said. "You're going to cool off. You're going to go through those stretches where you're struggling."
"Eventually he's going to catch fire again. And you know what? We'll be that much better off."
MRI confirms left knee tendinitis for Melky
BOSTON -- Melky Cabrera tried to play through some lingering left knee pain, but the more he played, the worse it got.
Cabrera tweaked it while the Blue Jays were playing the Rays earlier in the week, and his movement was noticeably hampered Thursday against the Red Sox.
The Blue Jays ultimately decided to place the outfielder on the 15-day disabled list for knee tendinitis Thursday night and call up shortstop Munenori Kawasaki, who was sent down to Triple-A Buffalo when Jose Reyes returned from the DL earlier this week.
Cabrera underwent an MRI before Friday's game, and the results confirmed the tendinitis diagnosis. Manager John Gibbons said he didn't have a timetable for Cabrera's return, but he didn't expect it to be a long-term problem.
"He did something in [St. Petersburg] the other day," manager John Gibbons said. "[He] twisted it, and that's when he starting feeling it a little bit more. And then yesterday it was just magnified. So he wasn't moving really well to begin with and then just kind of added to it. So we figured [it was] the best thing to do, because he might need a few days off anyway."
"If his knee's fine and it's just a few-day thing, then I don't see why it would be any longer," Gibbons said. "Might be the perfect time. Give him some time to rest his body, too."
Rajai Davis, who is hitting .304 with one home run and eight RBIs, will get a chance to play on a regular basis during Cabrera's absence.
Kawasaki will play both middle infield spots while in the Major Leagues, occasionally filling in for Emilio Bonifacio at second base depending on matchups.
The always-energetic Kawasaki, 32, hit .225 with a .337 on-base percentage and seven stolen bases in 60 games with the Blue Jays as Reyes' primarily replacement at shortstop.
After historic start, bullpen stumbles
BOSTON -- The Blue Jays' bullpen finally faltered in a 7-5 loss to the Red Sox Friday.
Before the game, Toronto relievers had a 0.83 ERA this month, on pace for the most efficient run in franchise history and the best Major League Baseball has seen in nearly 50 years.
But after surrendering the decisive two runs in the bottom of the seventh Friday, the bullpen's ERA rose to 1.00 in June, putting them out of reach to match the 1965 Orioles 'pen that compiled a 0.77 ERA in June.
They are, however, still on pace to beat the franchise-best 1992 Blue Jays' team, which had a 1.50 ERA in September.
Those statistics didn't matter to manager John Gibbons after the game, though.
"Like I said, they're not going to be perfect every time out there," he said.
Despite the loss, the bullpen has been a major reason for Toronto's midseason resurgence. The squad has won 15 of its last 21 games and has yet to lose a game when leading after seven innings.
The success can be traced back to the callups of Neil Wagner and Juan Perez on May 29. The pair has combined to give up just three earned runs over 27 2/3 innings since joining the club.
"We're strong down there," said Gibbons. "They've all been good, but the addition of Wagner really has helped -- especially at the time we put [Esmil] Rogers in the rotation. We had been looking for a right-hander who can get a tough right-hander out late in the game, and he's done that."
Michael Periatt is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.