So far, so good for McGowan, Drabek

Blue Jays pitchers Kyle Drabek and Dustin McGowan (above) are both having solid springs in Florida....

Blue Jays pitchers Kyle Drabek and Dustin McGowan (above) are both having solid springs in Florida. One or both could make the club's starting rotation. (STEVE NESIUS/Reuters file photo)

BOB ELLIOTT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:57 PM ET

KISSIMMEE, FLA. - How was your final inning?

Kyle Drabek absorbed the question as he entered the visiting clubhouse at Osceola County Stadium Thursday afternoon.

“He hasn’t thrown a chair yet ... must have been OK,” the normally quiet Dustin McGowan interjected.

Drabek smiled.

Yes, it was a good day in a long line of good days, after so many rehab days, for Blue Jays right-hander Dustin McGowan.

Same for Drabek.

The Houston Astros scored an unearned run off Drabek in the third and final inning of his three innings of relief, and they scored an unearned run off starter McGowan in his three innings. Jays won, 6-3.

Mind you the 2012 Astros are not to be confused with the ‘27 New York Yankees, they’re not a big hitting team ... although Carlos Lee and Brett Wallace look fit to hit third and fourth on the Ruth’s Hats or Valiquette Sports softball teams.

The two Jays pitchers combined for one walk in six innings.

The Jays will tell you McGowan, who made four starts last September, after missing 165 weeks due to injury, is their fifth starter.

There are also scouts from opposing teams who will tell you that the Jays are being naive and Drabek will make more starts this season than McGowan.

So how goes the rivalry?

“There isn’t any, we have a great relationship, I first met him when he was re-habbing,” Drabek said. “I’m very happy to see him pitching so well. If you’re rooting against a teammate well then you’re in the wrong business.”

The Jays, like every other team, will need more than five starters over the 162-game schedule.

More important than Thursday’s three innings was Monday in Dunedin for McGowan.

“I threw my first side session,” said McGowan of the customary bullpens the starters throw two days after their start, his first since July, 2008.

“I might miss one or two as we go deeper into the season, but that was the first. We didn’t do any last September as we were worried about the shoulder.”

McGowan has allowed one unearned run in five innings this spring, walking one, striking out four.

“I want to be a pitcher the pitching coach walks by and says ‘Hi,’” said McGowan. “I don’t want people asking how I am.”

So, how are you?

“Fine,” McGowan said. “I want people to say ‘see you in five days.’

“The command on my curve isn’t what I want, but we still have a few starts before opening day. I felt stronger in my third than I did in the first.”

McGowan breezed through the Astros order in the third: striking out Jose Altuve looking, allowing a single to Jordan Schafer and getting Angel Sanchez and J.D. Martinez on grounders.

A throwing error by Travis d’Arnaud led to the Astros’ run in the first and third baseman Mike McCoy’s error in the sixth cost Drabek a run.

“My father said, learn from your failures and your achievements,” Drabek said. “Being a rookie and not getting calls — I didn’t handle things well. I have to remember to breath. Slow down. Stay over the rubber.”

So far he’s been slowing down, breathing and staying over the rubber. In nine innings he’s allowed three runs, walking two and fanning five.

“We looked at it, I had seven different deliveries from the stretch ... SEVEN,” Drabek said. “I’d turn my back like Brandon Morrow, lean back so I couldn’t see the mitt, change my arm slot and others.”

And now after pitching coaches Bruce Walton and Dane Johnson worked with him?

“We went back to my old way, with a couple of minor adjustments,” Drabek said.


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