Well, that was fun. McGowan’s MLB return that is.
The only thing worse than your team mustering just four singles in a game and getting shut out is giving up 14 runs on 20 hits to a division rival. Sadly, both of those things happened tonight, as the Jays lost in a blowout to the Red Sox, 14-0.
In a game filled with negatives, including the fact Mark Teahen outhit all but two Jays hitters, there were a few good things to take away from this game.
Dustin McGowan pitched off a Major League mound for the first time since July 8, 2008 and Joel Carreno looked great in relief, so let’s look at those positives instead.
Just before the top of the fifth started, the moment everybody had been waiting for finally took place. There was McGowan, trotting in from the bullpen to a standing ovation, ready to throw his first Major League pitch in over three years. Pretty special.
After giving up hits to three of the first four batters he faced and allowing two runs to score, McGowan settled down to retire seven consecutive batters, including three via strikeout. After a nice barehanded throw by McGowan in the seventh, Big Papi singled and Marco Scutaro walked, before Nate Spears flew out to left to end the frame. After sitting down the first two batters of the eighth inning, Josh Reddick went down to get a McGowan curveball low in the zone and smacked a solo home run; the only blemish of McGowan’s two-strikeout eighth inning.
Fatigue seemed to come into play for McGowan a bit in the ninth, as he walked the first two batters he faced before leaving the game, but overall it was an encouraging return to the big leagues for the Georgia native. McGowan finished with a line of 4 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO, 1 HR.
Pitch-wise, McGowan threw 74 in total and 44 for strikes. He threw 44 fastballs that ranged from 89 to 96 mph, 15 sliders that ranged from 86 to 91 mph, 9 changeups that ranged from 85 to 89 mph, and only six curveballs, that ranged from 81 to 84 mph.
While I still think Carreno should stay as a starter, many felt even before he made his Major League debut a few weeks ago that his future is at the back end of a bullpen, given the Jays’ surplus of starting pitching prospects in their system. Since his call up, though, it’s been hard to ignore what he’s done out of the ‘pen for the Jays already this season.
Entering tonight’s game having allowed just one earned run in eight innings (1.13 ERA), Carreno inherited runners on first and second from McGowan’s back-to-back walks.
Riding a 4-for-5 night already, David Ortiz was the first batter Carreno had to face, and for the first time in his short MLB career to boot. Carreno pounded the zone with a first-pitch strike before falling behind 3-1 after three-straight balls, which were all different pitches. Then, after tossing a strike on the outside half of the plate to make the count 3-2, Carreno went back to the slider, a pitch he had previously thrown for a ball in the at-bat, to get Ortiz committing on a check-swing for the strikeout.
Then, after getting Marco Scutaro to swing on the first pitch and fly out to center, Carreno threw yet another first-pitch strike; this time to Nate Spears. After getting Spears to flail at a curveball for strike two, Carreno painted the outside corner beautifully with a slider (though Gameday says it was a curveball…) to close out the inning.
It was a great job by the 22-year-old, and the entire time he was on the mound, it looked like he wasn’t even noticing the runners on base and simply focusing on the task of throwing strikes. Good stuff.
With the four-game series now split at one game apiece, Brandon Morrow looks to deny Tim Wakefield of yet another chance to notch his 200th career win tomorrow night at the Dome. Let’s all hope that happens.
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