Orioles’ Gausman blanks Rays in a world without Wieters
By Steve Katz
Kevin Gausman delivers during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field today. Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The prospect of life without Matt Wieters went from distant notion to reality when the Baltimore Orioles catcher had Tommy John surgery Tuesday, meaning he will miss the rest of the season. He told news outlets today that surgery was inevitable. He will begin the rehab process very soon in Atlanta, and he projects to be back in time for Opening Day next season.
During Wieters’ career, scouts have said he is the one player the Orioles can’t lose. The team was 6-12 in its first few weeks without him, and overall, 17-20 without him as of the end of the Tampa Bay series. But in the Major Leagues, they don’t cry about these things, they just decide on solutions and move forward.
A combination of Nick Hundley and Caleb Joseph keeps doing the best it can, with Joseph proving the better of the two defensively thus far and that fact earning him more playing time. The Orioles’ recent stretch of 11 quality starts in the last 13 games, and their 3.54 team ERA over the last two weeks, are testimony to Joseph’s defense and game-calling skills, even though the club is still just 13-13 in its last 26 games. The team ERA is a less-than-thrilling 4.11 going back 28 days, according to baseball-reference.com
Some days they look great, and some days they do at least one thing to shoot themselves in the foot somehow or other. The last two wins over Tampa Bay were an example of the former. Tuesday night, Miguel Gonzales almost gave back a 5-2 lead, but Steve Pearce came through with a late homer to pad the lead and provide the final margin. Today brought a gem of a combined pitching performance, from Kevin Gausman, to a hopefully revitalized Tommy Hunter, to a rock-solid Zach Britton.
Gausman has a .95 ERA since joining the team June 7
This was Gausman’s (3-1) third fine outing in a row, and his escape from a bases loaded pickle in the first inning showed another step in his growth: How to recover when his pitches are getting squeezed. He has a .95 ERA since June 7, allowing two earned runs in 19 innings over that span. He got out of the first without giving up a run, and threw five more shutout innings before Hunter took over and retired six straight, easing a lot of worries over his more recent appearances.
Britton was his usual, efficient self, finishing the Rays off 1-2-3 in the ninth, including two strikeouts. He’ll go into this weekend’s series at Yankee Stadium with tomorrow’s off day in which to rest. His saves have been so efficiently pitched that one off-day should give him enough rest.
Crying isn’t the only thing people don’t do in the Major Leagues. Not looking ahead is another, but just in case you were, the Orioles face Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday, as he handcuffed Toronto on Tuesday to go 11-1.
You want a quality start streak? He has thrown quality starts in all 14 of his big-league outings, and Tuesday lowered his league-best ERA from 2.02 to 1.99.