When the Baltimore Orioles drafted Kevin Gausman I found it a bit odd that the kid claimed to enjoy powdered donuts in between innings during starts. Whatever floats your boat, I suppose…however it just always seemed like an odd thing to be eating during a game. But perhaps there’s some method to Gausman’s maddness in a sense. At least that would be true if last night’s results are any indication; Gausman’s line: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 3 K.
Gausman ended up going somewhat deep into counts as the game went on, however he always seemed to find a way out of a situation. This was true from the very beginning, as Jose Reyes was thrown out at third base in a rare 5-1-5 double-play. Reyes would have been safe at second base on a fielder’s choice, however he opted to try to take third – bad idea.
The O’s would take a 2-0 lead in the last of the first when Delmon Young homered following
Nick Markakis‘ lead off single. The O’s would stretch their lead to 3-0 on a Caleb Joseph RBI-single. Gausman would simply hit the cruise control button after that, allowing a few hits here and there but also finding ways to get guys off base. He walked Melky Cabrera in the third with two outs, but induced a Jose Bautista ground out to end the inning…and in doing so proved that there can in theory be something good that comes after a walk.
Cabrera would single home Toronto’s first run of the game in the fifth inning, marking the first threat to Gausman’s quality start. However he managed to induce yet another Jose Bautista ground out and the O’s got out of the inning without any further damage. Gausman would give way to Brian Matusz after the sixth inning, turning in the Orioles’ fourth consecutive quality start in as many games.
One of the keys to winning games in the AL East is add-on runs, and the Orioles managed to do just that. Jonathan Schoop led off the inning with a double, and he was later doubled home by Nick Markakis. And it’s a good thing for the Birds that something along those lines occurred, as Juan Encarnacion put up a fielder’s choice-RBI in the eighth to bring Toronto to within 4-2.
However Oriole pitching shut them down for the remainder of the game, giving the O’s a 4-2 win in game one of four this weekend. The win brings the Orioles to within 3.5 games of first place. I mentioned the four straight quality starts above; make no mistake about the fact that this is a huge thing for this pitching staff. It all begins and ends with starting pitching, and for the past few games the Orioles have gotten good pitching. This eases the burden on the bullpen, which keeps everyone fresh and much more able to do the jobs they’re supposed to do.
This was also a key start for Gausman, who had been inconsistent at best for the Orioles to this point in his career. I’m the first one to tell you that Gausman has been mishandled to a point by the organization due in part to the fact that he’s gone back and forth to and from Norfolk on numerous occasions. However for the first time in awhile, he was able to string together back-to-back quality starts, which is a good sign for the future.
The series continues tonight at 7 PM with Ubaldo Jimenez heading back to the mound. If Jimenez doesn’t pitch well tonight, does he get demoted to the bullpen? Tough to say, but Buck Showalter and the Orioles’ hope is that they don’t have to find out. Jimenez will be opposed by Toronto’s Drew Hutchinson. As for Kevin Gausman, we’ll let him get back to those donuts…they seem to be working!
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