Blue Jays 5, Rockies 0
McGowan’s bid for the second no-hitter in Blue Jays history ended when Jeff Baker singled leading off the ninth inning, and Toronto beat the Colorado Rockies 5-0 Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.
Frank Thomas hit his 499th career homer and Vernon Wells added a three-run drive for the Blue Jays (37-37), who got back to .500 for the first time since they were 13-13 on May 1.
“That would have been priceless, 500 and a no-no,” McGowan said.
The 25-year-old right-hander had to settle for his first career complete game. He walked one and matched a career high with seven strikeouts.
“He’s got dominant stuff,” Thomas said. “I’ve been telling him since spring training, ‘Kid, you’ve got something special. You’re not an average starter. You’re a way above average starter. Your stuff is electric and you can shut down teams for seven, eight innings like it’s no big deal any day of the week.”’
McGowan got ahead of Baker with a slider for strike one, but Baker lined the next pitch, an inside fastball, up the middle and into center field.
“Give him a lot of credit,” Blue Jays catcher Gregg Zaun said. “He put a good swing on a really good pitch and was able to break up the no-hitter with a legitimate line drive.”
The Rogers Centre crowd saluted McGowan with a standing ovation.
“I wasn’t really looking for anything,” Baker said. “His stuff was so good, you couldn’t.”
McGowan (3-3) retired the next three batters after Baker’s hit and finished with 109 pitches.
“In the fourth or fifth inning, I just started using my fastball and slider mostly, getting a lot of groundballs,” McGowan said. “That’s what it’s all about.”
McGowan, a first-round pick in the 2000 draft, retired the first 10 batters he faced. Kaz Matsui drew a four-pitch walk with one out in the fourth and stole second, but McGowan struck out Matt Holliday and got Todd Helton to ground out.
“That was the best pitched game I’ve seen in a long time,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “He had command of four pitches, late life on his fastball. His two-seam fastball was very effective to right-handers. He stayed completely away from the barrel, with the exception of that pitch to Baker in the ninth.”
McGowan was hit hard in his previous start, allowing six runs and eight hits in just 1 2-3 innings against the Dodgers, his shortest start of the season.
“When you have outings like that, it’s hard to put them behind you,” McGowan said. “People kept drilling it into my head that you have to put it behind you and not worry about it and that’s what I did.”
McGowan’s wife wasn’t at the game. She left earlier in the day to return to the couple’s Florida home.
“I’m kind of glad I didn’t throw a no-hitter,” McGowan said. “My wife left this morning and I’d have felt bad about it.”
Thomas led off the fourth with his 12th home run. It was the second in two days for Thomas, who is one homer shy of becoming the 21st player to hit 500. He struck out in his last two at-bats and finished 1-for-4.
“I’m just really happy to be hitting the ball with authority again,” he said.
Aaron Hill doubled home a run in the sixth.
The Rockies, who are 0-6 in Toronto, were swept for the first time this season.
Josh Fogg (3-6) allowed five runs and seven hits over six innings, walking two and striking out four. He lost for the first time since May 17 against Arizona, a span of five starts.
After starting at designated hitter for the first time in his career Saturday, Helton returned to first base. … The announced crowd at Rogers Centre was 33,910.