SARASOTA, Fla. – There will be many more appearances for Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy with the Orioles, perhaps even this season.
On Thursday afternoon, the dynamic duo pitched on the same stage for the second time in five days before they’re sent to the minor leagues.
Of course, manager Buck Showalter didn’t want to confirm that they won’t pitch here again, but by the time their next turn comes there will be just 11 days of spring training games left.
The two will leave with a good taste in their mouth, and the Orioles excited about their future.
Gausman allowed two runs in 2 2/3 innings, and Bundy gave up in the final three as the Orioles lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 before a sold-out crowd of 8.797 at Ed Smith Stadium.
Last Saturday, Showalter gave Bundy the start and Gausman pitched three in relief. He reversed the roles.
"It's funny how, I have an expression where, some guys you put in a come to the rescue mode where you follow somebody and you kind of see... there's a little advantage sometimes being the second guy in,” Showalter said.
“But I feel at some point in their career it's going to be academic to them. They continue to do good things here. I'm proud of them."
In the coming days, Bundy and Gausman will go to the Twin Lakes minor league camp to begin preparing for their seasons, probably at Bowie. Showalter said they’ve yet to learn all they can pick up at major league camp.
“No. If I said that, that would mean that we're sending them out. There's still some other things they can get. Not going to happen today or tomorrow. They keep getting feedback and filing information away. What they get is invaluable. There's still things here they won't get in Twin Lakes,” Showalter said.
On another windy day, Gausman allowed two runs and two hits in 2 2/3. He struck out two and walked three. He said starting after four relief appearances wasn’t unnerving.
“It actually wasn’t. I think I was more nervous the other times than today. I think part of it was that I got to start and got to go through my routine and I was little bit, more comfortable for me. I don’t think it was nerves. That first batter, I threw some great pitches. All those pitches are low, and that’s what you try to stay at the bottom half of the zone. I definitely wasn’t as nervous as I was before,” Gausman said.
He faced a veritable Opening Day lineup. The Rays brought nearly every starter.
“I think that’s what you’re going to be facing when you’re in the bigs, you know,” Gausman said. “You’re not going to be facing any scrubs. It’s definitely good, get those appearances against those guys, get those positive and negative feedback on, you know, your stuff and how it’s going to work against certain guys and stuff like that.”
Showalter is eager to have them face adversity, have them pitch in difficult conditions.
“"This is all part of things they need to get exposed to. This is a hard day to pitch. Wind's blowing out, field's dry. And hey, I'll take my chances with, the way I look at it, giving up two runs. It would be real picky for me to fault pitching today,” Showalter said.
Bundy allowed the winning run in the ninth inning. It scored when catcher Luis Exposito picked up a ball with his mask with Wil Myers on third and was charged with catcher’s interference.
He allowed two hits, struck out one and walked two in his three innings.
“It’s never up to my standards, I didn’t like those [two[ walks, you know? Command is not there right now. I’m trying to tinker with some stuff right now. It’ll be there,” Bundy said.
The 20-year-old is hypercritical, and grimaced when asked if he was satisfied with his performance.
“I wouldn’t say pleased. Everybody here knows that, but I am seeing a tiny bit of improvement, it’s just not a whole lot yet,” Bundy said.
-Matt Wieters hit a long three-run home run to center in the fifth for the Orioles’ runs.
-Zach Britton, T.J. McFarland, Luis Ayala and Mark Hendrickson pitch on Friday against a Boston Red Sox split-squad. Clayton Mortenson, Alex Wilson, Chris Hernandez and Oscar Villareal pitch the Red Sox.
-Hall of Fame pitcher Phil Niekro is working at the Twin Lakes complex to teach one minor league pitcher the knuckleball, Showalter confirmed.