The Toronto Blue Jays hope Dustin McGowan can continue his strong pitching and help them extend their home winning streak to eight games for the first time in more than eight years Sunday when they try to sweep a three-game series from the Texas Rangers.
Toronto (55-54) extended its winning streak at Rogers Centre to a season-high seven Saturday with a 9-5 victory over Texas (48-62) as Frank Thomas hit a pair of home runs. The two homers gave him 505, moving past Eddie Murray into sole possession of 20th place on baseball’s all-time list.
The Blue Jays have outscored opponents 50-14 during their home surge, which includes a 6-4 victory Friday in the series opener.
“The guys are confident,” Thomas said. “Throughout the lineup, the guys are swinging the bats. If we keep getting the consistent pitching we’ve been getting the last couple of weeks, you just never know what might happen.”
McGowan (7-5, 4.36 ERA) will try to help the Blue Jays to their first eight-game home winning streak since April 14-22, 1999, which would be two games shy of their team-record 10-game surge from July 21-Aug. 3, 1985.
The right-hander, who was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse on May 3, has been terrific in winning his last two starts at home, scattering five hits in 16 1-3 scoreless innings and threw a one-hitter on June 24 in a 5-0 win over Colorado. Overall, the 25-year-old is 4-1 with a 3.52 ERA at Rogers Centre in six outings.
“The stuff was there with McGowan—we always knew that,” Blue Jays catcher Gregg Zaun told the team’s official Web site. “He’s got frontline-starter-type stuff. He’s young, and it’s going to take a little while for him to mature and to start to believe in himself. But you can tell, even from the beginning of the season when he came up until now, how much more confidence he has in his ability.”
McGowan had another strong outing Monday, but did not factor in the decision after yielding two runs and four hits in six innings of a 5-4 loss at Tampa Bay. His major league debut and lone appearance against the Rangers came on July 30, 2005, when he gave up one run and two hits in five innings before leaving without a decision in Toronto’s 3-2 loss.
Texas, which has lost six of its last eight games after a season-high four-game winning streak, counters with Brandon McCarthy (5-7, 5.18), one of its own promising young hurlers.
McCarthy, 24, is coming off his first win in eight starts on Tuesday when he limited Cleveland to one run and four hits in 6 2-3 innings of a 3-1 victory.
“It had been a couple months since I had one (win),” said McCarthy, who went 0-3 with a 5.13 ERA in seven starts since his previous win on May 20. “It was nice to have that feeling again.”
McCarthy hopes a matchup with Toronto will help him win consecutive outings for the first time since May 4 and 10. The right-hander’s first win in that span came against the Blue Jays, whom he held them to one run and two hits in six innings of a 7-1 victory.
He did not fare as well in his only career start at Toronto, giving up five runs and six hits in three innings of a 7-3 defeat on April 29.
McCarthy has held Thomas hitless in six at-bats, but the future Hall of Famer has gone 4-for-8 with six RBIs in this series.