6/14/2014 10:11 P.M. ET
Now in bullpen, McGowan earns first save
By David Wilson / MLB.com
BALTIMORE -- Dustin McGowan didn't realize he had a chance to get a save when he entered for the injured Brett Cecil during the eighth inning of Toronto's 4-0 win against the Orioles on Friday.
He said he knows the rule -- the tying run was on deck, therefore it was a save situation -- but in the rush of getting on to the field to replace the injured relief pitcher, he hadn't thought about it.
"I came out and just focused on getting the batter out," McGowan said. "It just never crossed my mind."
On Saturday, the ball that he threw for the final pitch of his first career save was perched on the top shelf of his locker in the visiting clubhouse at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
It wasn't the ball that he hit another milestone with, though. When he entered, he needed just one changeup to log a one-pitch strikeout.
"Dusty's confident now, too," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "I don't think you would've seen that out of Dusty in the past. He's probably coming in there and raring it back as hard as he can."
McGowan began the season as part of the Blue Jays' rotation, but was moved to the bullpen after eight starts.
Since moving to the 'pen, McGowan has lowered his ERA from 5.08 to 3.96 with 13 1/3 innings of relief work. Opposing batters are hitting just .140 against him since the move. On Friday, with his fastball touching 95 mph, he fanned three hitters to give him a new season-best out of the bullpen.
"You don't need to go for more than 1-2 innings. You can let it go," McGowan said. "When you're starting, you've got to save something in the tank."
Most importantly, McGowan is now content with his place in the bullpen. After three shoulder surgeries, pitching in relief is better for his arm and still lets him throw mid-90s heaters almost a full decade after he made his Major League debut.
He'd spent time in the bullpen before, so the transition in 2014 was an easy one. The bullpen is his home now, and he's at peace with that.
"You have to embrace it," McGowan said. "This is what I'm going to do, not ever worry about starting again."
Santos activated from DL; Mastroianni optioned
BALTIMORE -- Brett Cecil isn't headed to the disabled list with a left groin injury, but the Blue Jays added a relief pitcher to their roster on Saturday, anyway.
Toronto activated Sergio Santos from the disabled list before Saturday's game against the Orioles in Baltimore. To make room for the righty, Toronto optioned outfielder Darin Mastroianni back to Triple-A Buffalo after he spent just two days on the Major League roster.
"Cecil actually feels much better than we thought he would," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said, "but we've got to cover ourselves a little bit, so we sent Mastroianni out to buy us a little time. In the next couple days, if Cecil isn't ready we'll have to DL him."
Santos missed 32 games with right forearm soreness that sent him to the DL on May 10. He struggled in 14 appearances before going down, posting a 9.00 ERA in 12 innings. Mastroianni played in just one game for the Blue Jays and went 0-for-2.
Santos made a pair of rehab appearances for Double-A New Hampshire, where he allowed four earned runs in two innings.
Saturday's move leaves Toronto's bench a little shorthanded at the expense of firming up the bullpen while Cecil has a chance to recover from stiffness in his groin.
The lefty -- one of two in the Blue Jays' bullpen -- said his groin is still "tight" a day after tweaking it on a pitch to Chris Davis, but "not painful."
"I'm very surprised he feels this good, to tell you the truth," Gibbons said. "Hopefully it's not recurring."
Cecil has a 3.51 ERA in 25 2/3 innings with three saves this season. If he has to go on the DL, Gibbons said Toronto would add another position player. One option could be Colby Rasmus, who is rehabbing for the Bisons. The outfielder has gone 1-for-6 in two games against Triple-A Toledo.
"He felt good," Gibbons said. "He'll DH tonight."
• Rasmus' rehab continued for Triple-A Buffalo on Saturday. The outfielder was the designated hitter for the second time in three days. He played five innings in the outfield on Friday after playing DH on Thursday.
• With their win against the O's on Friday, the Blue Jays improved to 12-2 in their last 14 road games.
David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.