In a battle of minor league pitchers promoted for the afternoon game of Friday’s day-night doubleheader, the Tampa Bay Rays’ Alex Colome bested the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman. And it wasn’t close.
Colome (1-0), who has spent much of the season with Triple-A Durham, flummoxed the Orioles after a shaky first inning as the Rays cruised to a 5-2 win before an announced 15,614 at Camden Yards. In his first major league start of the year, the right-hander allowed just two hits and exited with a four-run lead in the sixth.
“He’s just got good stuff,” center fielder Adam Jones said. “Didn’t feel overpowering or anything, just made some good pitches to some good hitters.”
Meanwhile, Gausman — who was called up as the club’s "26th man" for the doubleheader and will be sent down tonight — didn’t have a clean inning and was pulled after surrendering consecutive doubles to lead off the sixth. He was tagged for five runs, allowing seven hits and walking a season-high four batters on 95 pitches (50 strikes).
“I really had to grind through the entire start today,” Gausman said. “Overall, my stuff just wasn’t very good today. More than anything, I just felt kinda out of whack.”
The loss drops the Orioles (41-37) to 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East.
The Rays (33-48) got to Gausman (3-2) early, scoring twice in the second inning on left fielder Brandon Guyer’s double and a single by Matt Joyce through a drawn-in infield.
They added a run with two outs in the fourth when No. 9 hitter Jose Molina, who was previously 2-for-35 with runners in scoring position, blooped a flare that landed in shallow right field.
Joyce’s RBI double off the center-field wall in the sixth ended Gausman’s afternoon.
“Some days you survive that outing, some days you don’t,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It gets magnified [because] we didn’t swing the bats very well off their guy.”
Though Gausman didn’t get much help from his offense, which managed only one more hit off Colome after scoring in the first inning, catcher Caleb Joseph caught two Rays attempting to steal, improving to 12-for-24 (50 percent) this year.
“That was huge,” Gausman said. “I don’t know where my start would’ve been without him throwing out those two guys.”
The major league average for throwing out base runners is 27 percent.
Manny Machado had two of the Orioles’ three hits on the afternoon. In the seventh inning, the third baseman turned on reliever Brad Boxberger’s 0-1 slider and blasted it to deep left field for his fifth home run of the season, his first since June 6.
The rest of the Orioles’ lineup went a combined 1-for-26.
First baseman Chris Davis’ groundout into the shift gave the Orioles their only other run and a brief lead in the first inning. Right fielder Nick Markakis scored on Davis’ 41st RBI of the year.
Davis also drew walks in the fourth and sixth innings, but designated hitter Nelson Cruz stranded him both times with a double play and three-pitch strikeout, respectively.
“If you continue to get men on base, you're going to succeed,” Jones said. “We keep getting guys on base, but that hit with runners in scoring position has been elusive.”
Right-hander Evan Meek, who was called up from Triple-A Norfolk after starter Bud Norris’ move to the 15-day disabled list Friday with a strained right groin, pitched the sixth and seventh innings. He allowed an inherited runner to score but was otherwise perfect, lowering his ERA to 5.52.
“He’s really coming on, kind of getting back to where he was that made us want him on the club,” Showalter said. “So it was good to see him carry that into today’s game.”
Meek was aided by an umpire’s review that ruled Rays slugger Ben Zobrist was out on a play in which the right-hander slipped while covering first base. The Orioles are now 8-for-15 on video reviews this season.
Reliever Brad Brach made quick work of the Rays in the eighth and ninth, but Jake McGee had no trouble silencing the Orioles’ floundering offense to secure his second save of the season.