Wednesday was a busy day for Jays players playing in the Arizona, Hawaii and Mexican Leagues. Dustin McGowan had a solid start for Phoenix, while Chip Cannon and Ryan Klosterman combined for three hits on the offensive end. Tracy Thorpe also made an appearance. Both Eric Nielsen and Ryan Patterson were in the starting lineup in Hawaii, while Lee Gronkiewicz made his winter league debut in Mexico.
Chip Cannon had his first at bat of the game in the top of the first inning, and with a runner on first, the first baseman lined a singe to left field.
Although Dustin McGowan suffered the loss in his first Arizona Fall League start, the right-hander did pitch well. McGowan had a long first inning, but eventually retired the side in order. After getting ahead of leadoff batter Mike Rodriguez 0-2, McGowan threw three straight balls to bring the count to 3-2, before Rodriguez flew out to center field. McGowan threw a first pitch strike to Eric Patterson, but fell behind 2-1 before Patterson grounded out to first base. Hunter Pence was the final batter of the inning, but made the Jays right-hander work. McGowan threw nine pitches in the at bat, before striking out Pence.
Ryan Klosterman got his first plate appearance to lead off the second inning. Klosterman showed his patience at the plate by drawing a five-pitch walk, and then showed his speed by stealing second base. The Jays shortstop, however, tried to steal third base on the first pitch of the following at bat, but was gunned down by catcher Louis Santangelo.
McGowan got into a little trouble in the second inning, allowing his only run of the ball game. After Matt Moses led off the inning with a single to left on the first pitch he saw, McGowan threw a wild pitch to David Winfree on a 2-2 count, which enabled Moses to advance a base. Winfree, however, flew out to right on the next pitch, and Bobby Malek grounded out to second on the first pitch of his at bat. With two outs, Chin Lung Hu got an infield single to third, to score Moses, before Fernando Martinez grounded out to third.
McGowan returned to his first inning form and retired the side in order in the third inning. He caught Louis Santangelo looking at a strike on a 1-2 pitch, and got Mike Rodriguez to fly out to center, and Eric Patterson to ground out to second.
In total McGowan threw 48 pitches, with 29 being strikes. He allowed a run, on two hits, in three innings. McGowan fanned two batters, and didn’t issue a walk.
“McGowan looked real good on the mound,” noted one scout that was at the game. “He was spotting his fastball well, and seemed to have command of all his pitches.”
“He threw first pitch strikes to eight of the twelve batters he faced, and that’s what he needs to focus on if he wants to see success on the mound.”
After Chip Cannon struck out on a foul tip in the third inning, Ryan Klosterman reached base once again in the fourth inning. After a seven-pitch at bat, the shortstop singled to center field. In the sixth inning, the fortunes were reversed. After Cannon reached base via a walk, Klosterman ended the inning striking out on a foul tip.
Klosterman added another single in the ninth inning and finished his AFL debut going 2-for-3 with a walk, while Cannon went 1-for-3 with a walk, but did strike out twice.
Tracy Thorpe also made an appearance in the game pitching the eighth inning and allowing two hits, and a run.
Hawaii Winter Baseball
Both Eric Nielsen, and Ryan Patterson were in the starting lineup for Honolulu Wednesday night, but pitching dominated the 1-0 affair. Nielsen, batting fourth and playing right field, went 0-for-3 on the evening. Meanwhile, Patterson batting fifth and acting as the clubs designated hitter, went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
Nielsen lowered his Hawaiian League average to .294 (5-17), while Patterson is not batting .235 (4-17).
Mexican Pacific League
Pitching for Obregon once again this winter is Jays reliever Lee Gronkiewicz. The right-hander had a busy season in 2006, pitching for Syracuse, Team USA, and now pitching in Winter Baseball.
Gronkiewicz made his season debut on Wednesday and began the ninth inning with his club up 1-0. The right-hander got Matt Kata to fly out to right, and then Carlos Resendez to fly out to left. Gronkiewicz got into some minor trouble after that as he allowed back-to-back doubles to Oscar Robles and Jesse Gutierrez, before getting Jose Espinoza to ground out.