BALTIMORE – Dustin McGowan will see a "W" beside his name when he checks the boxscore on Saturday morning, something he could only dream about during endless rehabilitation stints while prime years of his big league career wasted away.
He scattered five hits over six and a third innings of scoreless ball in the Blue Jays' 2-0 win over the Orioles and thanks to shut down relief from Brett Cecil and Sergio Santos, got his first major league win since June 22, 2008.
The story has been told repeatedly about McGowan's troubled injury history; the multiple shoulder surgeries, the scuttled comeback attempts until finally, last season, he returned in June and proved to be a stellar member of a great bullpen.
Relief work seemed his destiny, until perseverance met opportunity and suddenly he was a part of the 2014 starting rotation.
Here's some perspective on Dustin McGowan's achievement:
John Gibbons, his current manager, was fired from his first tenure in Toronto only two days prior to McGowan's most recent win; Mark Buehrle, his teammate who never gets injured, won 77 games in between McGowan's victories.
Surely, this one is sweeter.
"I was just thinking about it, actually," said McGowan. "It was actually against Baltimore the last time I got hurt. It brought back a couple of memories for me."
That's McGowan, typically understated. You can forgive him, too, if he's grown weary of talking about his trials over the years. The significance of the win, though, isn't lost on his manager.
"It's a kind of a sentimental night, you know, one of those deals," said Gibbons. "He's come a long way. He answered the bell. He had a rough one, his first one and he bounced back tonight against a good hitting ball club. That's very rewarding, for not only him but for everybody that knows him."
It was somewhat of an atypical night for McGowan. It started out normally when he blew a fastball by Nick Markakis and then dropped a nasty slider on Delmon Young to record two early strikeouts. Strangely, those would be his only two punch outs on the evening.
He two-hit the Orioles through 4 2/3 innings but hit a snag before the final out in the fifth. Markakis singled; so did Young. Then, Chris Davis, still without a home run this season but who earlier had lifted two fly balls to deep centerfield that the wind kept in the park, singled. The bases were loaded for Adam Jones.
McGowan pumped a first-pitch fastball, at 95 miles per hour his hardest of the night, right down the middle for strike one.
"I knew I had to get out of that jam," said McGowan. "Sometimes you have to save something in the tank for stuff like that. Tonight I just focused on pitching and reared back when I needed to."
Two pitches later, Jones flew out to centerfield to end the threat. Baltimore wouldn't come close to scoring for the remainder of the night.
McGowan's next hurdle is to wake up Saturday morning with a shoulder that feels healthy. The hurdle after that is to repeat the same scenario on Sunday morning. He's got another start next week, either toward the end of the Twins' series or next Friday's game in Cleveland.
It's been a long time since McGowan was in a routine. He's still getting used to it.
"I'm still trying to find that perfect routine for me," said McGowan. "How I feel the best leading up to the days, what kind of lifting, what kind of running but it shouldn't take much longer to get it where I want it."