Kevin Gausman getting more comfortable
BALTIMORE – On Sunday, Kevin Gausman showed he belonged in the major leagues.
After two difficult outings, Orioles manager Buck Showalter declined to demote him—or adjust his rotation—so that he wouldn’t have to face the potent Detroit Tigers lineup.
Gausman repaid his confidence by working six solid innings, and got his reward by watching his team come back with a 4-2 win over Detroit before 39,182 at Oriole Park.
The 22-year-old prodigy didn’t get the win, but more importantly, he didn’t get the loss, and got a big confidence boost.
“He's talented. That's the thing, as much as you talk about a lot of other factors that affect guys, he's talented,” Showalter said.
Gausman, who pitched five and four innings in his first two starts, made it through six innings rather nicely.
He allowed just one run when Prince Fielder parked a home run into the right field bleachers in the fourth.
Gausman came into the game with an 11.20 ERA, and by the time his six innings were over, he had reduced it to 7.20, which equal the combined ERA of the pitchers he replaced in the rotation, Jake Arrieta, Josh Stinson, Zach Britton and Steve Johnson.
Gausman allowed one run on five hits, struck out four and didn’t walk a hitter. He threw a wild pitch.
His best work came against Miguel Cabrera, who hit into two double plays and struck out looking against the heralded rookie.
"He's the best hitter in the game. I just tried to make my pitches and keep everything down,” Gausman said.
"If you don't have a good inning against him, he can make you pay for it. He's a great contact hitter too, so for him to watch that pitch, I was kind of surprised. He kept fouling off pitches. It was a good battle. It was fun."
Gausman’s body language remained positive even after the Nationals shelled him for seven runs Tuesday. He and pitching coach Rick Adair worked on a new game plan.
“I think Buck and Rick did a good job of consoling me and making sure that I knew I could play here. It was great to sit down with Rick and kind of figure out those mechanical things and obviously I felt good going forward about it,” Gausman said.
"I felt like today the most polished and you know, calm since I've been up here.”
The Orioles (32-25) were blanked by Detroit’s Rick Porcello (2-3) when Gausman was in the game. They had just three singles in the first six innings.
In the seventh, Brian Matusz (2-0) allowed a leadoff double to Fielder and singles to Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta. Peralta’s drove in Fielder for a 2-0 Detroit (30-25) lead.
Porcello allowed a leadoff home run to Chris Davis in the seventh, his 20th of the year. After Chris Dickerson and J.J. Hardy singled, Phil Coke replaced Porcello and allowed an RBI single to short right field by Danny Valencia, which tied the score at 2.
Valencia’s hit was the just the second Orioles’ pinch hit in 19 at-bats.
“I felt decent going in there,” Valencia said. “Fortunately, it went my way.”
Davis leads the majors in home runs, and hit his 20th in the team’s 57th game, the fastest since Frank Robinson hit 20 in 76 games in 1966. Last year, Davis hit his 20th on Aug. 19.
“I’m just going try and to continue to go out there and have good at-bats. It’s obviously good to good off to a good start, but at the same time you’ve got to keep plugging day-in and day-out and the numbers will be there at the end of the season,” Davis said.
Nate McLouth singled to center to drive home pinchrunner Alexi Casilla, and the Orioles led 3-2.
In the eighth, Davis tapped a double to left against the overshift. He scored on Casilla’s double to left against Darin Downs.
Darren O’Day pitched a scoreless eighth, and Jim Johnson recorded his 18th save in the ninth.
On a humid day, Showalter closely monitored his pitchers.
“This was one of those days where, we really needed to hold them to as few runs as we could,” Showalter said.
Overall, it was an impressive effort this weekend against one of baseball’s best.
“I think we can play with anybody,” Davis said. “It was a good team that we just beat. Obviously after the loss yesterday you want to bounce back and get the win and win the series but when we play our game and don’t try to do too much, we can compete with anybody.”
NOTES: The Orioles turned a season-high four double plays.
-Adam Jones struck out in all four at-bats.
The Orioles are off on Monday. They begin a three-game series in Houston on Tuesday.