BALTIMORE -- Toronto's pitching staff has gotten off to an impressive start, but there's at least one category in which the club would rather not be among the league leaders.
Despite having surrendered the second fewest hits (137) in the American League, the Blue Jays entered Thursday tied with Boston for the second most home runs (27) allowed.
It's a rather odd stat, but manager John Farrell has a couple of reasons for the discrepancy.
"We've got some guys with some power in their stuff and if a pitch is mislocated on the plate, they supply some of that power," Farrell said. "We've missed some location up in the strike zone at times, but I look at the overall number of runs we've allowed and we're sitting there with a solid team ERA.
"In addition, we've turned a high number of double plays. I think when guys realize, the opposition realizes, we're going to throw strikes, we're going to challenge the strike zone. Hopefully the vast majority of home runs have been solo home runs where they don't put a crooked number on the scoreboard."
Even with those home runs, Toronto's pitchers have been an early strength for the club. The rotation ranked fifth in the AL with 10 quality starts and fourth with 115 2/3 innings.
Entering Thursday, the starters had pitched at least five innings in 20 consecutive outings dating back to 2011. That was the second longest streak in the Majors -- ranking behind the White Sox, who have 23.
McGowan sidelined with shoulder inflammation
BALTIMORE -- Blue Jays right-hander Dustin McGowan has suffered yet another setback on the road to recovery from a variety of injuries.
McGowan experienced soreness in his right shoulder while rehabbing in Florida from a minor foot ailment. He was examined by renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday, and while structural damage was ruled out, McGowan will be shut down for the next two weeks because of inflammation.
"Disappointing on a number of levels," manager John Farrell said. "First and foremost, you think about his path that he's come through. We've all talked about the resiliency, but the fact is we were banking on him to be a part of this rotation.
"We fully expect him at some point to be available, but it's a blow to our overall starting depth."
McGowan was slated to open the year as the Blue Jays' No. 5 starter, but was shut down late in camp after being diagnosed with plantar fasciitis in his right foot. The injury was only expected to keep McGowan out until early May, but the rehab did not go according to plan.
The 30-year-old had his throwing program delayed on multiple occasions, and when he was finally able to pick up a baseball, the pain quickly followed. McGowan was throwing off flat ground from short distances and when the club began to lengthen him out, the injury was revealed.
"When he was getting 100-120 feet, he was still in that early phase, he never got to really any flat ground or certainly not to the mound yet," Farrell said of McGowan, who signed a two-year contract extension in the spring.
"We felt like ... particularly in his case, that he might feel some discomfort in there or some tightness, not too much discomfort, but it persisted and he never seemed to get some freeness to it, and we made precautionary measures to take him in for an MRI and that's what it revealed."
McGowan's path of return to the big leagues has been filled with adversity. He returned in September following a three-year absence because of two major shoulder surgeries and one knee surgery and appeared to finally be turning a corner late in the year.
The native of Savannah, Ga., threw 21 innings for the Blue Jays and arrived in camp fully healthy for the first time in recent memory. Within a month, that had changed and while Toronto remains optimistic that McGowan will be back this season, there is no timetable for his return.
Lawrie moved up to No. 2 spot in series finale
BALTIMORE -- Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie received a temporary promotion to the No. 2 spot in the batting order for Thursday night's game against Baltimore.
Manager John Farrell opted for the move after deciding to rest left-handers Kelly Johnson, Adam Lind and Colby Rasmus against Orioles southpaw Brian Matusz.
Lawrie, who had never hit higher than fifth during his brief Major League career, was the biggest beneficiary of the club deciding to stack some righties high in the order.
"It was a lineup considered the last time we faced Matusz back in Toronto and even against [Danny] Duffy over in Kansas City," Farrell said. "But we feel like we can get one of our more consistent hitters in the two hole and hopefully another at-bat or two throughout the course of the game."
Outfielder Eric Thames was the only left-handed regular who found himself in the lineup. Thames entered the game having gone 4-for-8 in his past two games and recorded hits in five of his past six contests, but Farrell said he wasn't necessarily riding the hot hand.
With the Blue Jays in the middle of a stretch of 20 games in 20 days, Farrell has been rotating players in and out to ensure everyone received proper rest.
"What we've done when we've gone to this lineup, Colby has been the guy that has remained in center field and this is a chance to give him a day off," Farrell said. "We're not going to get our next day off for another 10 days, so just trying to rotate guys through and keep everyone involved."
Edwin Encarnacion was back in the lineup one day after rolling his ankle during Wednesday's game against the Orioles. Encarnacion appeared to hurt his right ankle during the ninth inning against right-hander Pedro Strop, but arrived at Camden Yards on Thursday feeling no ill effects.
Left-hander Brett Cecil is expected to miss three starts after suffering a groin injury during his last outing for Double-A New Hampshire. Cecil has resumed running and is going through long toss, but likely will miss a couple of weeks.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell said that veteran infielder Omar Vizquel likely will receive his first start of the season at shortstop on Saturday afternoon against Seattle. Vizquel, who has appeared in just five games this season, is expected to provide a day off for starting shortstop Yunel Escobar.