BOSTON -- Given the fact that the Orioles' 7-6 win over the Boston Red Sox in 12 innings Sunday went more than 5 hours, it was easy to forget about right-hander Kevin Gausman's solid start.
“It was a while,” Gausman said after the game. “A lot of sitting around in the clubhouse for sure. … I had to have been out of it for at least 2 1/2 hours, probably. It definitely felt like that.”
Gausman held the Red Sox scoreless for his first five innings Sunday, but he was forced from the game with one out in the sixth after throwing 104 pitches. On the afternoon, he held the Red Sox to one run and four hits over 5 1/3 innings.
The 23-year-old right-hander went back to his bread and butter against Boston, primarily relying on fastballs, a few that hit 100 mph on the liberal Fenway Park radar gun.
“My last outing, I think I kind of shot myself in the foot, kind of just throwing too much off-speed there,” Gausman said. “Today that was really my main focus was to just go in there and try to pound the strike zone in and out with my fastball.”
Gausman was aggressive in the zone, striking out seven batters and walking two, but still found himself battling an elevated pitch count.
“Guys that have really good stuff are not going to throw 80 pitches in seven innings, because pitchers make a living on pitches that appear as something you want to swing at,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s going to have deep counts. So you’d love to see him have a little lower pitch count, but I think every time he goes out, it’s good for him.
“We are managing his innings, so at some point, he's good enough and we are good enough to pitch the rest of the season. There’s a method to what we are doing here. We are trying to make sure a guy like him is available the whole year.”
Now the bigger question is what’s next for Gausman?
Will he get another major league start before the All-Star break or will he be sent back to the minor leagues to accommodate a roster that has few optionable pitchers?
“That’s really not up to me,” Gausman said. “Just try to pitch well when I can, and when I get the opportunity to, but I have options, and they’re going to use them if they feel like they need it. If we need a bullpen guy, that’s what it’s going to be.”
Because right-handed long reliever Brad Brach pitched 4 1/3 innings in the past two days and left-handed long reliever T.J. McFarland saw action on back-to-back days, the Orioles might need to make a move to add some bullpen length.
And even though Brach probably will be unavailable for the next few nights, he has become far too valuable to option and not have available for 10 days.
Conceivably, the Orioles could option Gausman on Monday to add another reliever, and he could get two starts in the minors -- including one over the All-Star break -- while fulfilling the mandatory 10-day minor league option window. And then he could return when the Orioles resume the season after the break on the road against the Oakland Athletics on July 18.
The Orioles also need to make room for right-hander Bud Norris, who likely will be activated from the 15-day disabled list to start Tuesday’s game.
“We are shuffling around here,” Showalter said. “We are kicking around three or four ideas. Because of the All-Star Break, you get four free days to play with on the send out.”