McGowan a story of perseverance

* RHP Dustin McGowan's 6 1/3 scoreless innings for the Blue Jays Friday night marked his longest outing since July 27, 2008. The former No. 1 pick (2000) was mobbed by his Jays teammates in the dugout. .... 2014 Canadians in the Minors 2014 Canadians in College Letters of Intent 2014 Canadian draft list 2015 Canadian draft list


By Bob Elliott

BALTIMORE -- Dustin McGowan has conquered a few obstacles in his career.

Eight trips to the disabled list.

Three surgeries.

Countless trips to doctor’s offices. Magazines he read in 2011 had reflective stories on the same people and subjects he read about in 2004 while waiting for his appointment.

He was at the Bobby Mattick Training Facility in Dunedin with the other injured players more often than inside the Blue Jays dugout.

When healthy, his biggest hurdle has always been the Baltimore Orioles.

McGowan took his 6.99 career ERA against the Orioles and his 13.50 ERA this season to the Camden Yards mound to face the O’s Friday night.

At Vegas, it would be a reverse lock.

All McGowan did was lock down the Orioles hitters, fresh from two wins at Yankee Stadium, then Brett Cecil and Sergio Santos took over for a 2-0 win before 22,327 fans for the Jays' third shutout in 11 games.

“That’s why he’s been around so long, that’s why they kept giving him so many chances, because of what he did tonight,” said Adam Lind.

McGowan pitched 6 1/3 scoreless for the first-place Blue Jays, his longest outing since July 27, 2008 when he worked seven against the Atlanta Braves. The former No. 1 pick from 2000 allowed four singles and a double to Nelson Cruz, walked a man, hit two and struck out two.

He threw 90 pitches, 58 for strikes, for his first win since June 22 when he pitched five innings in an 8-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He was mobbed when he entered the dugout.

“His teammates were so excited,” said bench coach DeMarlo Hale. “It was a feeling of ‘well done, you did your job. That was a quality start. Nice job.’”

The Jays lost all three series in Baltimore last year, dropping two of three in each visit. They are now 1-0 thanks to McGowan, the relievers and some horse shoes courtesy of the Oriole infield, as Baltimore starter Chris Tillman allowed even fewer hits than the Jays starter, allowing two unearned runs.

McGowan’s most serious trouble spot came after he retired the first two in the fifth before allowing consecutive singles to Nick Markakis, Delmon Young and Chris Davis. Bautista charged quickly on the Davis play and thinking he had no chance at the plate threw to third. But O’s third base coach Bobby Dickerson held up Markakis to keep it 2-0.

“We started with a first-pitch fastball, then he went slider away,” said Navarro. “The biggest difference between the home opener and here? Strike one.”

Jones’ drive to left in the fourth appeared to be home run distance off the bat, but Melky Cabrera tracked down the ball on the track.

“It was an out,” said Navarro. “We’ll take it.”

Brett Cecil, the former Maryland Terp pitching on his home turf, took over for McGowan with a man on first and struck out Markakis and Young to end the seventh. He then made it three Ks in a row when he fanned the defending AL home run champion Davis, working a scoreless 1 2/3.

Santos made it a 1-2-3 ninth for his fourth save.


Sputtering offence: When a team trots out a lineup with four hitters driving on the Inter state, it obviously needs help.

The Jays' juggernaut scored twice in the fourth when Bautista reached on a one-out throwing error by Orioles third baseman Jonathan Schoop. After Edwin Encarnacion singled, Adam Lind hit a grounder to Schoop and it looked like an inning-ending double play.

Schoop, not the first to worry about a fielding play two plays earlier, took his time, looked to second and made a strong throw -- into right. Bautista scored on the play and Encarnacion scored when the Orioles failed to turn a 3-6-1 double play off the bat of Dioner Navarro, who leads the Jays with seven RBIs.

Baltimore made one error in its first nine games and then two within a span of three hitters.

Besides Encarnacion at .162, the other Jays sulking along were Colby Rasmus (.175), Brett Lawrie (.108) and shortstop Ryan Goins (.053). Besides Encarnacion, the other two Jays singles were by Cabrera and Navarro.


BACK NINE: Every duffer looks at the Masters coverage on TV and wishes he was there for one day.

Hall of Famer Jim Palmer golfed Augusta one November, a trip arranged by the folks from Jockey clothing and shot “either a 73 or a 75” one day and played the par-three course the other day.

“It was so unpretentious, it was like looking through a wide-angle lens, green grass, green trees, green all the way to Ray’s Creek,” said Palmer. “Like when they asked Billy Crystal the best day of his life and he said it was when his father took him to Yankee Stadium for the first time and he couldn’t believe how green the grass was.”

Palmer went to Yankee Stadium as a nine-year-old with his father in 1955, seeing the Cleveland Indians beat Allie Reynolds and Palmer’s Yankees.

“Ten years later, I was pitching there,” Palmer recalled. He entered in the second inning after Phil Linz hit a liner off the hand of Orioles starter Frank Bertaina. Bill Stafford bunted Linz to second and Palmer allowed an infield single to Horace Clarke before striking out Tom Tresh swinging and Mickey Mantle looking. Palmer worked five scoreless striking out seven and gained the win as manager Hank Bauer’s O’s won 6-2.

“Bauer didn’t speak to me much, but he loved to beat his old team, he told me ‘nice job kid,’” said Palmer.