McGowan, Wells solid in outing
Starter working on breaking pitches; reliever remains scoreless
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In his third start of the spring, and first Grapefruit League start since March 6, Dustin McGowan picked up his first spring win as the Blue Jays beat the Twins, 8-3, in front of 7,909 at Hammond Stadium.
McGowan went five innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and a hit batter.
"Overall, it was OK," McGowan said. "I thought I pounded the zone pretty decently. You're not going to get every pitch, and it resulted in me falling behind a little bit and I gave up a few hits.
"Like [Jays manager John Gibbons] told me when I came in, 'It's good to get in some jams here and pitch through it and learn a little bit about yourself.' So from that standpoint, it was a good thing."
McGowan, who threw 70 pitches in his outing, faced five batters in the first, giving up a run as Joe Mauer, who singled to left, scored on Justin Morneau's single to left-center field.
McGowan got the Twins in order in the second, but faced eight batters in the third. Carlos Gomez opened the frame with a bunt single, then with one out, stole second and went to third on a throwing error by catcher Brian Jeroloman, before scoring on Mauer's single. After a Michael Cuddyer flyout, a Morneau single to center sent Mauer to second. Craig Monroe's double down the left-field line scored Mauer, with Morneau going to third. McGowan then hit Brian Buscher to load the bases, but got Brendan Harris to ground out to third baseman Hector Luna to end the scoring drive.
"He's moving along," Gibbons said of McGowan's progress this spring. "He wasn't throwing enough strikes. He wasn't missing by much, but still, he's got to hit the zone consistently. That's the name of the game. But the big thing for him, when he got over the hump before -- even though it's Spring Training -- getting in trouble, is damage control. You minimize the damage [and] don't let the innings explode on you. He was able to do that."
McGowan is satisfied with his progress at this point in the spring, and he will continue working to sharpen his breaking pitches in his next outings.
"As long as I'm staying healthy and finishing good, I think that's the most important thing, and we're trying to sharpen up the rest of the stuff in the last couple of starts," McGowan said.
"My breaking pitches, [I want to] throw more for strikes. It seems like any time I try to throw it in any count, I either spike it or leave it away. So it's something I want to get ahead with. I need it this year."
McGowan skipped his last Grapefruit League start on March 11 against the Yankees and instead made a Minor League start in order to avoid facing the team he'll see in his first start of the regular season.
"It's really not that different," McGowan said. "I guess the one obvious change you see is guys at the Minor League level swing at a lot more pitches, and these guys, if it's close, they'll take it. They [have] a better judgment of the strike zone."
Randy Wells, the Rule 5 Draft pick from the Cubs, pitched a scoreless eighth inning, but had to work out of his own jam to do so.
With one out, Wells loaded the bases, walking Garrett Jones, giving up a single to Denard Span and walking Chris Basak. But he got Harris to strike out and Nick Punto to fly out, ending the threat.
In six appearances this spring, covering five innings, Wells has not allowed a run, giving up four hits and three walks, striking out five.
"He's been great," Gibbons said. "Today was the first day he ran into a little trouble throwing strikes, too, in that one stretch. But he's a converted catcher, so he's new to pitching. But for a kid that's new to it, he's very polished, and his game is he can throw a lot of strikes. Today, he got away from it a little bit, but he got out of a jam as well, with the big strikeout on Harris."
The Jays must decide whether to keep Wells on the 25-man roster or return him to the Cubs.
"It's going to be a big decision," Gibbons said. "If we don't keep him, there's a good chance he'll go back to the Cubs, and we don't want to lose him. But saying that and losing Casey Janssen [out for the season with a torn labrum], we've got to be really selective [with] who we put in that spot, because they've got to be able to help us."
Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.