Jays take rubber match from Orioles

A patch honouring the victims of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center is seen on Blue Jays'...

A patch honouring the victims of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center is seen on Blue Jays' Jose Bautista's jersey, before he stands in to hit against the Baltimore Orioles on September 11, 2011. (REUTERS/Fred Thornhill)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:28 PM ET

TORONTO - Wise baseball men will tell you not to read too much into what happens in September.

It’s barely a notch above spring training for teams out of the race.

Don’t try and tell that to the Jays fresh faces having a September to remember ...

Like first baseman David Cooper, 24, appearing in his 17th game, hitting a Tommy Hunter pitch to right to make it a one-run game in the seventh.

Like centre-fielder Adam Loewen, 27, playing in his third game as a position player, taking a 2-2 pitch from Hunter, 10 pitches after the Cooper connection, over the centre field fence tying the game.

Like reliever Joel Carreno, 24, working in a scoreless seventh to lower his ERA to 0.90 for his first major-league victory.

Like Dustin McGowan, 29, making his first start since July 8, 2008, pitching three innings. While McGowan had control problems, he allowed only three singles -- a line drive and two bloops -- in three innings.

Jose Bautista hit a run-scoring fly ball in the seventh to bring home Mike McCoy and Frank Francisco pitched a 1-2-3-4 ninth for his 14th save. The Jays had a 6-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre before a Legends Field spring crowd of 14,235.

“You’re only as good as your minor league system,” said reliever Casey Janssen. “It’s nice to see more pieces coming.”

Loewen fan club: What did the B.C. veteran third baseman Brett Lawrie, 21, (36 games experience) think of the “kid centre-fielder” going deep? “Awesome,” said Lawrie, “I’m glad he got his first one.” ... Cooper: “I remember when he started with the transition from hitting to pitching ... he’s night and day since then.” ... Bautista: “I’ve never seen a centre-fielder that big, not on my team.” ... Adam Lind: “He’s the biggest I’ve seen since Wily Mo Pena.” Pena is 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, while Loewen stands 6-foot-6, 222 pounds ... Loewen was in centre as McCoy played short in place of Yunel Escobar, who didn’t start Sunday after being hit with a Rick VandenHurk pitch on the left elbow Saturday ... McCoy had a day: 2-for-3 with a double and three runs scored, six chances flawlessly.

And the man himself: At triple-A Las Vegas Loewen made 17 home run trots, 34 in all, since showing up in Dunedin in the spring of 2009 with a bat. Surely this one was different? “I was thankful it went out after seeing the centre-fielder (Matt Angle) catch J.P. Arencibia’s against the fence before me.” ... Is the transition from pitcher to hitter now complete for the Surrey, B.C. native? “I don’t think it’s complete until I stick with the team, you have to prove yourself every day. I don’t think this proves a thing.” ... Loewen said the success to date would not be possible without the help of ... Vegas hitting coach Chad Mottola (“We didn’t change much this year, he talks to me one way, to Cooper another, he gets his point across.”) ... Justin Mashore, hitting coach at double-A New Hampshire (“We live close to each other in Arizona, he’s got bad knees plus a sore arm and every day this winter he’s threw me an hour’s worth of batting practice.”) ... Greg Hamilton, Loewen’s coach with the National Junior Team (“he was the first person I called when I considered making the change.”) Loewen, drafted from Dennis Springenatic’s Whalley Chiefs, spoke to Hamilton’s Mizuno Camp players on the weekend, as the best 15 and 16-year-olds from across Canada gathered at Rogers Centre.

McGowan review: Said Janssen: “The radar gun looked good (91-92 m.p.h.), Baltimore has a good hitting team, I was as impressed today as I was in his first outing against Boston.” ... Bautista: “I thought his slider looked great.” ... “It was a case of not having a good feel today,” said McGowan. “I was a little nervous before I got out there, I had a pretty good bullpen, sometimes when you step between the lines it’s different, it’s time to compete.” ... McGowan will be given another start. “You’re going to have good days and bad days, you can’t ride the wave too high or too low.”

O’s review: From extended spring of 2003 until instructional league play in the fall of 2009 Loewen was an Oriole ... Loewen said it was special to hit his homer in front of his old pals ... Hunter: “We have the same agent (Michael Moye), I’m probably going to hear about this for a while. You have to tip your cap. He’s gone through a lot of adversity in baseball (stress fractures, left elbow) and to come back and be productive, not only as a pitcher, but as a player, coming back in a different position, is ridiculous. I give him a lot of credit. It’s a good story and hopefully he finishes strong.” ... Chris Davis: “When Rick Ankiel did it I was amazed a guy could pitch in the big leagues, turn around and come back and hit. Not hitting for six years and being able to put on a big-league uniform and doing it here, there is a lot to be said for that. I didn’t really think he got that good, but (he’s) a big, strong guy and he got it out to centre.” ... Nick Markakis: “I’m happy for him. He’s been through a lot. I’ve seen what he’s gone through, being his roommate through the minors and the two years in the majors. I saw what he went through. To see him hit his first homer – you don’t want to see it -- but it happened and I got to see it. I hope he has a healthy and successful career. I’m sure I’ll be seeing him, playing against him a lot.”


Videos

Photos