McGowan pitched into the 7th inning for the second time this season, powering passed what he described as “fatigue” around the 65 pitch mark, possibly as a result of his Type I diabetes. On a team starving for more innings from the rotation, it marked the second game in a row the starter pitched into the seventh inning. When the hell was the last time that happened? Have they done that at all this season? There’s a could chance they haven’t.
It was all for naught, however. The bullpen lit this one on fire and blew it up real good, turning a 5-2 lead into a 10-7 loss. There’s really not much to say about it. At least they didn’t perform the Carousel of Walks routine. The Royals had to earn this one. And they did.
But, back to McGowan.
The tall right-hander was strong in the first, retiring the side on just 10 pitches. But things went south in the second, when he needed 30+, and surrendered a pair of runs. He didn’t get a lot of help from his catcher. Dioner Navarro couldn’t block a slider, scoring one run. Shortly after, he threw a ball into centre field, allowing a second runner to score from third.
In the top of the 3rd, he allowed a leadoff double, but got some help from his defence this time. Jose Bautista threw out Nori Aoki trying to advance to third. Aoki must have never seen or heard of Bautista’s arm. The ball was medium depth at best. Aoki was out by at least five feet.
That seemed to settle McGowan down. He allowed just a walk until a double to open the 7th inning, when John Gibbons came to take him out of the game.
His final line: 6.0 IP (+1 batter), 3R, 2ER, 3H, 3BB, 2K.
With the shadow of Marcus Stroman looming in the background, McGowan did what he could to keep himself in the rotation. Stroman tossed six innings of no-hit shutout ball in Buffalo, while striking out 10. He was yanked after just 80 pitches, and speculation began to stir that he was removed to save up some strength in the event that he needed to be called up.
On the Sportsnet pre-game show, analyst Gregg Zaun petitioned for more patience with McGowan, saying he should be given at least 10 starts to see what he can do. I normally agree with Zaun, but given the fact the Jays need consistently strong efforts from their starters, I don’t think they have the luxury of waiting around to see what someone is capable of. If you can’t get the job done, bring in the next guy who might be able to.
I said at the beginning of the season I was thrilled McGowan made the starting rotation, even if it meant his arm was going to fall off by June. Well, I think there’s time to save him before his arm falls off. He’s definitely earned another start or two after tonight (which I suppose would bring him up to seven or eight), but passed that, it might be best for him to go back to the bullpen, where he can limit his pitch counts, and rely on two pitches, which seems to make him slightly more effective.
One former Blue Jays analyst thinks they should be more hasty with the decision.
Strong words. But, he might be right. He later said if the next start is bad, throw him in the pen. Which I agree with.
On offense, there were quite a few positives:
Jose Reyes: one-and-a-half hit night (technically two hits, but his double in the 5th was wind-aided and dropped by Aoki in RF.) Still doesn’t look comfortable at the plate or on the bases.
Melky Cabrera: Double, triple, and a new Blue Jays record with 40 hits before May 1. Has hit safely in 25 of 26 games, eleven in a row. Ho hum.
Jose Bautista: First inning home run, league-leading 28th walk, and has now reached base in all 26 games this year. He also seems to be getting a lot more favourable calls than he used to. I’ve noticed that all year.
Edwin Encarnacion: A towering 2-run garbage-time home run in the 9th. Was invisible the rest of the night. But he’s hitting the ball hard the last few days.
Dioner Navarro, Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus: All three had two-hit nights. All positive signs.
Toronto sends Drew Hutchison to the mound tomorrow, as they once again try to turn the page on an ugly outing. I’m officially nominating “Just Turn The Page” as a 2014 official motto. Along with “Keep Trottin’ Them Out There”.
Heavy sigh. Let’s try again tomrrow, Jays fans.