Kevin Gausman throws his first major league pitch against the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre Thursday. Photo: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Most of the faithful have established that Kevin Gausman‘s first Major League start was decent as far as it went Thursday, and a learning experience, which almost went without saying. One thing he may have learned was that when he gets in trouble, throwing his fastball harder is not the way out. It straightens out when it’s faster, and the hitter can eventually catch up to it. Hitting 99, while impressive, isn’t the be-all and end-all of pitching.
He changed speeds effectively through the Toronto lineup the first time through, but the 4th and 5th innings gave him trouble, and the bullpen caved from there in a 12-6 loss.
The Baltimore Orioles will give him more starts, beginning with, we presume, his next turn on Tuesday, and of course there is no way of knowing how they will work out, or how long he’ll stay with the team. Speaking of things that go without saying, if he improves, he will help solidify the rotation.
Friday night, the pitching left the spotlight and the hitting seized it. It was hard to decide on a star of the show, with Manny Machado going 3 for 6 and turning in four or five gorgeous defensive plays, and Chris Davis going 3 for 4 including his major league-leading, 16th home run. He was hitting .337 and slugging .723 coming into today’s game.
The 10-6 victory had a funny way of never seeming safe, as the Jays inched closer even while the Orioles added a 9th, and even a 10th run to their output. Chris Tillman gave up 10 hits and 3 runs in only 5 innings, and Brian Matusz followed by giving up 2 runs in only 2/3 of an inning of work. Then the recently reliable, and still reasonably so, Tommy Hunter gave up a homer and three other hits in his 2 2/3 inning stint. But Darren O’Day shut the door in the 9th inning.
While most of Baltimore marveled at the wizardry of Machado and the power display of Davis, the Orioles braced for whatever would happen against the knuckleballing R.A. Dickey today. Machado joined Ty Cobb as the only players in history to have three hits in each of five consecutive road games before the age of 20, but he had his work cut out for him against the knuckler.
Dickey and the Toronto bullpen held him hitless and kept Davis in the park. But J.J. Hardy, hitting third, singled in two first-inning runs and doubled later. Hardy is hitting .312 with 16 RBI in his last 19 games. Danny Valencia took advantage of one of his occasional starts by coming through with a 2-run homer, and Adam Jones added his third homer of the series and 9th of the year. This one may have been Jones’ hardest hit ball of the season, a bullet off the facade of the third deck at Rogers Centre. It knocked Dickey out of the game in the 7th inning.But Steve Johnson, called up to replace Pedro Strop on the roster late Friday night, relieved Freddy Garcia in the 7th, and Darren O’Day replaced Johnson in the 8th, and the result was another uneasy feeling. The Jays closed a 6-3 Oriole lead to 6-5 in the 8th, but Jim Johnson got his 15th save with a 1-2-3 ninth. Strop was put on the DL with a lower back strain, but he had been ineffective (if one is generous, or rocked, to use another word) in several recent appearances. He gave up a grand slam in the 6th inning of Thursday’s loss.
Steve Johnson went through one of the most adventurous trips to Toronto any promoted minor leaguer ever had. The Orioles called him after midnight Friday night to let him know they were bringing him up, according to MASN commentator Dave Johnson, his father and a former Orioles pitcher.
They called once to say they might, once to say they were not, and a third time to confirm they were doing it. They sent a car to Allentown, Pa., where Norfolk was playing the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, to pick him up about 2:30 a.m. and drive him to Philadelphia. From there, his 4 a.m. flight to Toronto was delayed. The flight made it to Toronto just in time for the team bus to leave the hotel for the ballpark.
We hope he slept on the plane.
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Topics: Baltimore Orioles, Kevin Gausman