After several injuries derailed his path to success, the former first-round pick is finally getting another shot.
McGowan makes his first start in more than three seasons when the visiting Baltimore Orioles and Blue Jays conclude this three-game set and their season series Sunday.
McGowan’s last big league start came July 8, 2008, when he allowed four runs in four innings of a 7-6 win over Baltimore (58-86) before leaving with what turned out to be a torn rotator cuff.
The 29-year-old right-hander, who underwent season-ending surgery to repair fraying of the labrum in his right shoulder in 2008, also damaged cartilage in his right knee in 2009 and underwent a second shoulder operation last June. He returned to the majors Tuesday, yielding three runs, five hits, three walks and striking out five in four innings of relief during a 14-0 loss to Boston.
“It was just very encouraging to see the late action to his slider, the command of his changeup,” manager John Farrell said. “He had very good stuff.”
After his lengthy absence, McGowan (0-0, 6.75 ERA) is excited about returning to the starting rotation.
“That’s what I wanted to do. I’ve got to get ready to do it,” he told the Blue Jays’ official website. “I was a little bit shocked. I honestly didn’t even think about it. I didn’t even know if I’d be starting this year at all. So yeah, it was a complete surprise.”
McGowan, 13-7 with a 3.26 ERA over 25 career home starts, is 0-3 with 5.84 mark in five starts against Baltimore. McGowan has had his way with both Vladimir Guerrero(notes) and Nick Markakis(notes), who are 1 for 13 and 1 for 8, respectively, lifetime against him.
McGowan tries to help Toronto (73-73) win its seventh consecutive series from the Orioles after rallying for a 5-4 victory Saturday. Jose Bautista(notes) hit his MLB-leading 41st homer in the first inning and J.P. Arencibia(notes) came through with a pinch-hit, two-out game-winning single to cap a two-run ninth.
The Orioles have dropped 28 of 33 meetings in Toronto dating to 2008.
“We had a chance to win the game, we were one out, one pitch away,” said manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s a frustrated clubhouse right now.”
Baltimore had its three-game winning streak end and could have trouble bouncing back with Tommy Hunter(notes) (3-3, 5.28) on the hill. Hunter, who allowed five runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings of Tuesday’s 5-3 loss at Yankee Stadium, is 1-1 with a 6.58 ERA over his last four starts.
Hunter has allowed 10 runs in two starts spanning 10 innings against the Blue Jays this season, dropping to 1-2 with an 8.07 ERA over five career starts versus Toronto. He allowed seven runs in as many innings during his only visit to Rogers Centre, a 7-2 loss with Texas on Sept. 6, 2010.
Escobar, though, left Saturday’s game after he was struck on the left elbow by a pitch in the second inning. While X-rays were negative, his status remains day-to-day.