Baltimore Orioles win in Kevin Gausman’s home debut

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After two somewhat lackluster road starts, Kevin Gausman worked very hard in his side bullpen session this past week in terms of his fastball command. Going into his home debut yesterday in the Baltimore Orioles’ series finale against Detroit, Gausman knew he’d have to pitch a whale of a ballgame in order to beat the potent lineup set forth by Jim Leyland. I suppose it’s fair to say that whatever Gausman did in those side sessions must have worked, as he pitched his rear end off. Gausman’s line: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K. Gausman’s one run surrendered came on a fourth inning solo home run by Prince Fielder which broke a scoreless tie.

Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Gausman showed how good he was at “pitching” in the fifth inning when Jhonny Peralta led off the game with a single, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Following a fielder’s choice Peralta was at third base with one out, but Gausman induced two ground outs to end the inning. Unfortunately for Gausman, the O’s weren’t able to put a run across while he was still in the game, as his counterpart Rick Porcello was equally as good. As I said previously, Porcello was a pitcher that Detroit had earmarked for the Orioles when they had their eyes on J.J. Hardy‘s glove. Porcello showed yesterday that he had talent and that perhaps he could have helped the Orioles; but by turning down that trade (on numerous occasions), I think the Birds got the better deal.

Brian Matusz came out of the bullpen to relieve Gausman, and allowed Detroit to put another run across in the top of the seventh. However Chris Davis extended his major league lead in homers with a solo shot onto Eutaw Street to lead off the seventh, which cut Detroit’s lead to 2-1. That was Davis’ 20th homer on the year, which as I said leads the majors. That homer was followed up by Chris Dickerson and J.J. Hardy singles, as it became obvious that Porcello was beginning to tire. Detroit brought in Phil Coke in relief with runners at the corners and nobody out, and Buck Showalter sent Danny Valencia up in Ryan Flaherty‘s spot. Valencia singled to right, scoring Dickerson and tying the game. Later in the inning Nate McLouth‘s RBI-single scored Alexi Casilla (who pinch-ran for Valencia), and the O’s had their first lead of the day at 3-2. In the eighth inning Casilla would double home Chris Davis to give the O’s a 4-2 lead. Jim Johnson would allow a hit in the ninth, but he would ultimately close down the most potent lineup in the American League as the Orioles took the game 4-3.

Last season the Birds dropped two-of-three to Detroit at Camden Yards, and they bounced back this year and took two-of-three. So if you’re keeping score at home, that’s a net gain of one game. As I said above, whatever Kevin Gausman did during those side sessions really seemed to work for him. In his previous starts in Toronto and Washington he didn’t seem to have too much pizzazz on his fastball, however he was inducing late movement on his pitches yesterday. Even the home run pitch to Prince Fielder wasn’t exactly a bad pitch; it was low in the strike zone, but Fielder went down and clubbed it over the fence. As great as he pitched, you wish that the Birds could have taken the lead with him still in the game, however that wasn’t meant to be. For the record, the same could be said of Rick Porcello, who was probably left in the game for two outs too many. MASN cameras caught Porcello in the visitors’ dugout seeming to sulk about the end of his outing given how good he was for 95% of it. That’s another reason that Orioles fans should be glad the trade was never made.

The Orioles will have a day off today before they head to Houston to open up a three-game series tomorrow night. This will be the first time that the two teams have met as American League foes with Houston switching leagues for this season. Former Orioles skipper Dave Trembley is also Houston’s third base coach, which adds an interesting dynamic to the series. As I said at the beginning of the weekend, the Orioles were going to need to use their bullpen a lot in the Detroit series, so it’s definitely a good thing that they get today off.

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