ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – After Kevin Gausman’s dazzling start against the Detroit Tigers, the Orioles thought he was ready for his first win.
It will have to wait.
Gausman was pounded for seven runs in 4 1/3 innings as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Orioles 8-0 before 21,834 at Tropicana Field on Saturday.
Last Sunday, Gausman allowed just one run in six innings against the Tigers in a game the Orioles won. That followed two rocky performances and set the Orioles up for what they hoped would be a string of impressive outings.
This one wasn’t.
Gausman (0-3) allowed a run in the first and two in the second. After he retired Tampa Bay (34-27) in order in the third, he had six strikeouts. He escaped from the fourth inning without allowing a run, but the fifth was horrible. He left trailing 4-0 with one out and the bases loaded.
A year ago this week, Gausman was the Orioles’ first-round draft choice, the fourth overall, and he rocketed to the major leagues. It hasn’t been easy for him. He has an 8.84 ERA.
“Obviously, this hasn’t gone the way I would have hoped. Obviously, I wanted to come up here and hit the ground running and you know, win my first four starts, but it hasn’t been like that,” he said.
Gausman didn’t flinch when asked what the most difficult part of the big leagues has been for him.
“Probably it’s the frustration. I feel like I’m throwing good pitches, and sometimes I get the outcome that I hoped, and sometimes I don’t. A little frustrating, but I feel good. Mentally and physically I feel good, and I feel like I have the stuff to be here. I just haven’t produced.”
Manager Buck Showalter tried to shield his young right-hander from criticism. The Orioles were shut out for the third time this season, and the eight-run defeat was their widest margin of the season. Their four hits were all singles.
"I think he was pretty good, all things considered. You score one run in 18 innings, things like that, that's more of the emphasis where I'm at,” Showalter said.
Less than three weeks ago, Gausman was dominating in Bowie.
“I’m the exact same pitcher I was a couple of weeks ago, so the hitters are that much better, that much stronger. The pitch that gets a guy to chase in Double-A, they still might chase it, but the next time they might hit it for a double,” Gausman said.
Pitching coach Rick Adair said he was pleased with Gausman’s progress despite the difficult outing.
“Some of it is mental. And it’s not only mental from the pitching standpoint, but the hitting standpoint it’s a little bit of a guessing game when guys don’t know a guy and vice versa. He just made some mistakes up in the zone today. I don’t think anybody really caught up to his fastball,” Adair said.
Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Chris Davis were just 1-for-10. They’re a combined 1-for-22 in the first two games of the series.
After Manny Machado and Jones singled in the first and Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy singled in the fifth, the Orioles (34-28) had no baserunners.
“I just didn't really look at his outing like a struggle outing. I'm looking more at the one run in 18 innings. It's a real testament to their pitching. I'm not going to spend a lot of time personally dwelling on Gaus. He's going to give us a lot of chances to win,” Showalter said.
On his 24th birthday, T.J. McFarland relieved him and allowed a bases-clearing double to Luke Scott, who scored on Jose Lobaton’s double.
eremy Hellickson (4-2) allowed four hits in six innings. The last time Hellickson faced Baltimore, he took a 12-4 lead into the eighth inning, but the Orioles scored six runs to make the game a close one. There was no repeat.
“We’re facing a pretty good pitching staff,” Davis said.
[Chris] Archer last night was pretty dominant, moving the ball around and changing speeds. He threw a lot of strikes and then Hellickson doing the same thing today. Obviously with those kind of guys, you want to get them out of the game as early as possible and get into the pen. But they did a good job of keeping us off the bases and off the scoreboard as well. You’ve got to start game-planning for tomorrow and try to at least take one from them,” Davis said.
NOTES: The Orioles are batting just .101 in the series.
-Pedro Strop was activated from the disabled list and threw a scoreless eighth, allowing a hit and striking out two.
-Chris Tillman (5-2, 3.97) faces Matt Moore (8-1, 2.95) on Sunday at 1:40.