Dustin McGowan was looking for his first win in over three years, while Dylan Axelrod was looking for the first of his career.
McGowan will have to wait a little longer as Axelrod was the one to emerge victorious.
On a windy Monday night where Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen coached his last game for the club, the Sox took the lead on Tyler Flowers’ three-run home run in the bottom of the second and never looked back, defeating the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 at U.S. Cellular Field.
Guillen, who managed the White Sox to a World Series victory in 2005, was released from his contract after failing to come to terms on a new deal and is reportedly heading to the Florida Marlins to take over their bench gig.
He heads off on a win.
Axelrod (1-0) was solid, going six innings, allowing no runs on three hits and two walks, and adding six strikeouts while winning for the first time as a major leaguer.
McGowan (0-2) was looking for his first big-league victory since beating the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 28, 2008, but a lack of command and of his breaking pitches in particular means he’ll have to wait until the 2012 season for another attempt.
The Jays starter has been a great story, having missed the entire 2009 and 2010 seasons while battling a variety of injuries and surgeries that put his career in doubt.
But he’s finally healthy and looking to make up for lost time.
Early night for McGowan
Making his fourth start of the season, McGowan lasted only 73 pitches through four innings, giving up four earned runs on four hits, adding three punch-outs for good measure.
However, he also allowed three walks, threw a wild pitch and hit a batter.
Safe to say, not exactly the start McGowan was looking for to end the season on a high note.
The 29-year old righty got himself into trouble in the bottom of the second when he walked struggling slugger Adam Dunn and hit outfielder Alejando De Aza with a slider that got away from him.
That set the stage for Flowers’ three-run blast, which came on a 1-2 pitch and put the Sox up 3-0. It was his fourth home run of his young career, all of which have come this season.
McGowan was again wild in the fourth, walking shortstop Alexei Ramirez, allowing a hit to catcher A.J. Pierzynski, and then throwing a wild pitch by Dunn, putting runners on second and third with one out.
Luckily for McGowan, he was able to strikeout Dunn and third baseman Brent Morel to end the threat and after pitching out of another jam in the fourth, his night was over.
Chicago picked up another run when outfielder Dayan Viciedo batted home Ramirez in the bottom of the seventh, while the Jays picked up their first run of the night on an Adam Lind RBI fielder’s choice in the top of the eighth.
Toronto made it interesting in the top of the ninth, scoring two runs off shaky Sox closer and former Jays farmhand Sergio Santos on a pinch-hit, two-run double by rookie David Cooper, and then loading up the bases with two outs for Lind.
But Santos struck out Lind to end the game and preserve the victory for the Sox.
As for McGowan, although his final earned-run average for 2011 is an ugly 6.43, he seemed to be making strides and showed some of the potential that made him a first-round pick by the Jays in 2000.
However, if he wants to make the 2012 team, he will have to be more than just a feel good story and he will certainly have to show more command than he did Monday night if the Jays are going to have a rotation capable of handling the cream of the crop in the American League East.