Blue Jays (11-9) vs. Orioles (9-10): The McGowan/Tillman rematch

Lawrie congratulates McGowan

Usually when a pitcher throws 8 innings of 3 hit baseball, his team wins the game. That wasn’t the case for Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles back on April 11th when they took on Dustin McGowan, who made his best start of the season going 6.1 scoreless innings. The Blue Jays scored 2 unearned runs on Tillman and took the game 2-0, marking McGowan’s first win in nearly six years.

McGowan wasn’t sharp his last time out, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits in 4 innings, walking 4 and striking out 3. This comes with a couple asterisks, both positive and negative. It was against the Twins (bad) but it was freezing in Minnesota (c’mon, give the guy a break). That was also the game where Toronto’s relievers came in and walked 8 batters in the 8th inning in a what was a more unbearable version of baseball to watch than little league and which we will also never speak of again. Let’s just say it probably wasn’t the easiest night to get a good grip on the baseball.

Something to watch out for tonight from McGowan is his fastball velocity. In his 3 starts it has gone down from an average of 93.1 to 92.8 to 91.2. Again, the first was in the dome, then outdoors at Camden Yards then north of The Wall in Minnesota. It will be interesting to see if he can find his heat again back inside the dome.

Another thing is whether or not he will have control over his offspeed stuff. In his last start against Baltimore he certainly did, and he also threw his highest percentage of pitches for strikes (64%) in any game this year. That is interesting because he also threw his LOWEST percentage of fastballs at 56.7%. Obviously he had a lot of confidence in his slider and changeup and that was a big factor in his success.

As for the lineup, there was a lot to be happy about last night. We got our first Edwing of the season after Encarnacion launched the game deciding 3-run homer in the 8th. Plus, Brett Lawrie and his new moustache went deep and provided us with this:


Melky Cabrera continues to lead the MLB in hits, Jose Bautista continues to lead the MLB in walks and once Edwin, Rasmus and Lawrie start hitting like they’re supposed to, this should be one hell of a lineup. Speaking of which, here’s the version you will see tonight:

Blue Jays 04/23 (11-9)
SS 7 Jose Reyes .250 0 2
LF 53 Melky Cabrera .358 5 8
RF 19 Jose Bautista .467 6 13
1B 10 Edwin Encarnacion .307 1 8
DH 47 Juan Francisco .500 0 1
C 30 Dioner Navarro .290 0 12
CF 28 Colby Rasmus .257 3 5
3B 13 Brett Lawrie .198 4 15
2B 17 Ryan Goins .189 0 0
P 29 Dustin McGowan 4.85 1.92 8/6

The lineup needs to be a lot better against Tillman this time around, because it’s a lot to ask for the Jays to shut out the Orioles again. Realistically, the only reason the Jays beat them the first time was defence. The Jays actually showed great patience against Tillman, only swinging at 14.9% of pitches outside the zone, and 37.5% of pitches overall, both season lows for Tillman. I think the Jays need to be aggressive on his fastball which Tillman uses to get ahead in the count and then drops that huge curve. He threw the hook a season high 25% of the time against the Jays and they couldn’t do anything with it. He also threw a first pitch strike almost 70% of the time, mostly with the fastball. As Darrin Fletcher famously once said on a Blue Jays broadcast: when you see the cheese, you gotta turn on the fan.

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