Rox one-hit by McGowan, swept by Jays
Baker's single in ninth breaks up Toronto righty's no-hit bid
TORONTO -- You'll have to excuse the Rockies if they don't have glowing reviews for the city of Toronto.
Colorado has lost all six games it has played in Canada's largest city, and on Sunday, the Rockies were almost the victim of one of the most impressive pitching performances of the season.
Colorado's Jeff Baker singled up the middle in the top of the ninth inning to break up a no-hitter by right-hander Dustin McGowan, but that was little consolation to the Rockies, who still lost, 5-0, to the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
Afterwards, Rockies manager Clint Hurdle had nothing but praise for the McGowan, one of the Jays' young up-and-coming fireballers.
"He was powerful," said Hurdle." He threw all his pitches for strikes, everything was crisp. Very, very impressive. From the dugout, from the stands, it was absolutely filthy at the plate."
McGowan was able to keep the Rockies hitters off balance all day long. The 25-year-old mixed in an effective slider and changeup with a blistering 98-mph fastball en route to a dominating nine-inning performance.
The fact that McGowan (4-3) shut down the Rockies' offense was no small task. Colorado was averaging more than five runs per game over its last five contests and entered this series as one of the hottest teams in baseball.
Rockies left fielder Matt Holliday was one of McGowan's victims on Sunday. He struck out twice and went hitless for just the second time in his last 11 games.
"He kept his pitches down and, for the most part, he was ahead in the count," Holliday said. "When you're ahead in the count, you can throw whatever you want, and when you've got that kind of stuff, it makes it very difficult on the other team."
The Rockies (38-37) thought they had a hit on the very first play of the game. Center fielder Willy Taveras hit a grounder that would have been a routine out for almost anyone in the league, but Taveras' lightning quick speed took over and it appeared as though he beat the throw from Jays shortstop John McDonald. He didn't get the call and McGowan's no-hit bid was under way.
The play wasn't something Hurdle wanted to spend a lot of time talking about after the game, but it's clear he's becoming frustrated with repeated calls that have gone against his center fielder this season.
"Don't anticipate him being out, because he's the fastest guy in baseball," Hurdle said. "Give him a fair shake and then make the call. Don't anticipate him being out just because everybody else is out."
The Rockies' next chance came in the top of the sixth, when catcher Yorvit Torrealba hit a screaming grounder that seemed destined for left field. Jays third baseman Howie Clark dove to his left and got up in time to just barely get Torrealba at first base.
McGowan's dominance continued for the next two innings which set up a dramatic ninth. The fans in Rogers Centre rose to their feet as McGowan headed to the mound for the final time of the afternoon, needing just three outs to record the Jays' first no-hitter since 1990.
Baker, in the starting lineup for back-to-back games for the first time since June 2-3 against the Reds, was the first batter to come to the plate.
He fell behind quickly, much to the delight of the Rogers Centre fans, who were waiting to erupt. With an 0-1 count, McGowan went back to his fastball, the pitch that had been working so well for him all game long. This time, Baker was able to get his arms extended and put the barrel of the bat on the ball and line it up the middle, over the outstretched arm of Jays second baseman Aaron Hill.
"It was a little disappointing, but you've got to give him credit," McGowan said. "He put a good swing on the ball. So I tip my hat to him."
Baker said by that point in the game he wasn't looking for a particular pitch from McGowan, he was just trying to get on base any way possible.
"I wasn't really looking for anything," Baker said. "His stuff was so good, you couldn't. He was throwing a fastball 96-98, running it in on your hands, or darting away; it was unbelievable."
McGowan's last start wasn't nearly as impressive. He allowed six runs against the Dodgers and was chased from the game after just 1 2/3 innings. Despite McGowan's up-and-down career that is just three seasons old, Hurdle said the Rockies didn't come in underestimating the young right-hander.
"All you had to do was watch the video of his stuff," Hurdle said. "We knew coming in this guy was an aggressive pitcher with very good stuff."
Rockies starter Josh Fogg wasn't nearly as effective. He surrendered home runs to Jays center fielder Vernon Wells and designated hitter Frank Thomas en route to his sixth loss of the season. Fogg (3-6) was charged with five runs on seven hits over six innings of work.
Colorado traveled to Toronto with all kinds of momentum. The Rockies were fresh off a sweep of the Yankees, and were 20-7 since May 22, best in the Major Leagues. They've since hit a bump in the road, but Hurdle said he isn't going to get caught up in the highs and lows that come with every season.
"We're just going to keep playing the game," Hurdle said. "We didn't panic early, we weren't high-fiving through our run. We're going to keep showing up and concentrating on the things we need to do that are important to play the game."
Gregor Chisholm is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.