Carroll County Times

Gausman takes step back in Game One loss to Rays

BALTIMORE - For several weeks, the Baltimore Orioles' starting rotation was becoming one of the club's biggest strengths. And it wasn't the typical five pitchers, but rather a six-man rotation.

That situation was created when Kevin Gausman, who was just filling in for an injured Miguel Gonzalez, shined against a pair of tough opponents in Oakland and Toronto. And then he excelled again when facing Tampa Bay.

But in Friday's 5-3 loss in the first game of a doubleheader against the Rays, Gausman didn't have that same effectiveness. Just hours before, Bud Norris, who had arguably been the team's most consistent starter, went on the 15-day disabled list.

Gausman was the 26th man on the Orioles' roster for the doubleheader and will be sent back down to the minors, either Class-AAA Norfolk or Class-AA Bowie. He gave up five runs on seven hits in five innings with a career-high four walks, falling to 3-2.

"You're not going to be your sharpest every time out, and I really had to grind the entire start," Gausman said. "I just didn't have my stuff. I didn't have my best fastball and I didn't have my best second pitch, which was my split-change."

In his prior three starts, the Baltimore right-hander gave up just two runs in 19 innings, all wins. Then, Gausman was optioned to Norfolk during the last road trip. He was then moved to Bowie so he would be closer by for Friday's doubleheader.

It certainly wasn't a typical week routine-wise for Gausman, but he didn't blame that for his rough outing.

"It was definitely weird, but I would never make an excuse for anything like that," Gausman said. "I've been up and down. I've done relief, started. I've done everything you can imagine. I don't think that really had anything to do with it."

He gave up an RBI double to Brandon Guyer and an RBI single to Matt Joyce in the second, which gave the Rays a 2-1 lead. Jose Molina knocked an RBI single in the fourth and Guyer and Matt Joyce hit back-to-back doubles in the fifth, chasing Gausman.

Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph caught Gausman during his three-game winning streak and was behind the plate again on Friday, noting that Gausman didn't seem as sharp.

"He just didn't have his great command," Joseph said. "His stuff was there. He couldn't really get into a rhythm with the command."

Perhaps the only pitcher equally as good as Gausman for the past few weeks was Norris, who couldn't avoid the DL after getting an MRI for his right groin strain on Thursday. Norris is on a four-game winning streak, pitching to a 2.55 ERA in June.

"Just from the doctor's orders I got yesterday is to take five days off and just kind of let it calm down and so forth," Norris said. "Kind of frustrating because I've been throwing the ball so well, I obviously want to keep playing, but I've got to get this thing right and got to get ready because we still have a lot of season left."

The right-hander is 7-5 with a 3.62 ERA in 14 starts in his first full season with the club.

With Gausman being sent back down and Norris on the DL, the Orioles will need a starter for Tuesday's game against Texas. It could have been Gausman on three days of rest, but manager Buck Showalter said he wants to avoid that.

"It's not fair to him or the team or the organization," Showalter said before Friday's doubleheader. "Or the fans, because I think that puts him in harm's way."

Long reliever T.J. McFarland could be an option for Tuesday depending on if he is needed the next several days. The only other option would be for the Orioles to recall a pitcher from the minors.

However, Norris' DL stint was backdated to his last appearance, last Saturday against the Yankees, so it won't be long before he returns as long as he returns to full health.

"You've got to look at the big picture, and the big picture's the team and 162 and getting into the postseason," Norris said. "It's a little different scenario if we're late in the postseason or something like that, but now I have an opportunity to get back to 100 percent and go from there."