The Aberdeen IronBirds were not suffering from a lack of hits offensive punch Wednesday night, but they could not hold on to the four-run lead they build up the middle of the contest and gave up seven tallies to Staten Island over the final four innings in a 9-5 loss.
Kevin Gausman, who pitched in his first professional game at Ripken Stadium after being picked first in the 2012 draft by Baltimore, made an abbreviated, two-inning start in Wednesday's game as he awaits being called back to the Orioles' roster. In five starts with Baltimore this season, Gausman has posted a 3-2 record and a 3.86 ERA. The 23-year-old righty started two games for the IronBirds two seasons ago before being promoted to A-Advanced Frederick. Over two innings in Wednesday's game, Gausman struck out one, walked one and allowed one run (unearned) on one hit.
Gausman said after the game he was not sure when the Orioles planned to recall him, and that he felt good during his Wednesday performance, during which he hit 99 mph on Ripken Stadium's radar gun.
"I'm not really sure what the plan is yet," he said. "I'm just playing it by ear at this point, waiting to hear something. I had a pretty good workout tonight. I was set at two innings or 35 pitches. I was just trying to establish command of my fastball early, and work inside. I think I threw one slider and two or three changeups, which is good for the first two innings."
Aberdeen tied the contest in the bottom of the fourth, when Oswill Lartiguez, who reached on a one-out walk, scored on Justin Viele's RBI single up the middle.
In their next at-bat, the IronBirds saw Federico Castagnini lead off with a single to left, while Jonah Heim followed with a double to the corner in right. Castagnini scored the go-ahead run on a Jay Gonzalez single and Heim put the IronBirds up, 3-1, when he came home on Austin Pfeiffer's RBI single. Gonzalez scored from second on two straight passed balls, and Pfeiffer came home for Aberdeen's final run on Lartiguez's base hit to right.
Staten Island did not wait long to take the lead back, however, pasting relievers Stephen Tarpley and Stefan Crichton for six runs on four singles, a triple and a pair of walks in the top of the sixth.
Staten Island went up, 9-5, in the top of the eighth, scoring twice on reliever Derrick Bleeker with a single, a walk and a double.
Tarpley (0-1), who allowed five earned runs on three hits, struck out four and walked two over 2-1/3 innings, was charged with the loss.
Gonzalez had his best plate performance of the season thus far, going 4-for-5 with a double. Lartiguez and Castagnini both went 2-for-4.
The loss knocked Aberdeen, which ended an 11-game losing streak the previous night, to 2-17 on the season
A one-run game went the IronBirds way, for once, Tuesday night, when they posted a come-from-behind, 5-4 victory over the visiting Staten Island Yankees to snap an 11-game losing streak.
Of Aberdeen's 18 contests this season, 10 of them have been decided by one run, and the IronBirds have come up on the losing end in eight of those games. In their lone victory before Tuesday, the IronBirds beat Staten Island, 1-0, on June 18.
Aberdeen skipper Matt Merullo talked before Tuesday's victory about the excessive number of close games his team has played this year.
"Last season, we started off with a series against Hudson Valley where we just weren't competitive against them," Merullo said. "We got beat pretty good three games in a row, then we started to figure things out. This season, it's been one-run game after one-run game. When you lose that many close ones, it can start to wear you down, especially players at this level, who are still trying to adjust to the professional game."
Trailing 2-0 after 3-1/2 innings Tuesday, the IronBirds saw their first rally start in the bottom of the fourth with a leadoff walk from Justin Viele. Alex Murphy followed with an RBI double that put the hosts on the board. After Oswill Lartiguez walked to put two men on, Hector Veloz cleared the bases with a two-RBI double to put Aberdeen ahead, 3-2.
Staten Island tied the game again, 3-3, in the top of the fifth, but Aberdeen answered in the home half of the inning with Jay Gonzalez scoring on an RBI groundout from Murphy after leading off with a single and moving to third on an infield error.
Staten Island tied the game again in the top of the sixth.
In the bottom of the seventh, Gonzalez sparked the go-ahead rally with a one-out walk. After moving to third on a single by Jemile Weeks, Gonzalez motored home for the game's final run on Viele's base hit up the middle.
Reliever Ivan Hernandez (1-1) was the last of Aberdeen's five pitchers, but he picked up the victory with a three-inning stint in which he struck out two, walked one and held Staten Island to one hit.