McGowan on a roll

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:18 AM ET

SEATTLE - Dustin McGowan threw another four innings of shutout baseball in a double-A rehab assignment at New Hampshire Tuesday against Altoona. McGowan threw 57 pitches in this one and now has only given up two earned runs in his last 18 innings, split between class-A Dunedin and New Hampshire.

McGowan, who hasn’t pitched in a big-league game since July 8, 2008, is on track to return to the Jays early in September.

Fresh life

Since moving to the bullpen, Jesse Litsch has posted an ERA of 1.69 with a save, two holds and an opponents’ batting average of just .121. In 10 2/3 innings, he has allowed four hits and two walks to go with 14 strikeouts in six appearances, including Monday when he tossed two shutout innings, allowing one hit.

As a starter this season, Litsch had a 4.66 ERA and an opponents’ batting average of .268.

Battling back

Blue Jays manager John Farrell is hoping Rajai Davis can recover from a hamstring tear and get back on the field before the end of this season.

“For his own mindset, going into the offseason, knowing he got back onto the field would be important,” Farrell said. “That doesn’t mean he has to be back and stealing bases but just getting on the field again will set him up better for the offseason.”

Tater time

After Eric Thames and Brett Lawrie both homered on Monday, the Blue Jays lead the majors in rookie home runs with 31. J.P. Arencibia has knocked out 19, Thames has eight, Lawrie has three and David Cooper has one.

Arencibia’s total is second among MLB rookies behind Mark Trumbo of the LA Angels. Arencibia also is tied for the MLB lead among all catchers. Mike Napoli and Brian McCann also have 19.

Fan drain

Attendance for the Mariners, who play in one of the game’s best open-air stadiums with a retractable roof, has been in steady decline over the last five seasons. In 2007, they drew an average of 32,993. In 2008, it was 28,761, on average. In 2009, 27,116. In 2010, 25,746. This year, through 59 games, they are averaging 24,532 per game.

Over the five years, it represents a loss of 8,461 fans per game.


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