Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman was left to take little victories from his outing Friday night against the St. Louis Cardinals. Although he did pitch better than his previous outing at the New York Yankees, he was left with the same frustrating result.
Gausman failed to get through the sixth inning in the Orioles' 11-2 interleague loss to the Cardinals. Despite striking out seven, he allowed 12 base runners over 5 2/3 innings, and struggled with putting hitters away.
He left a three-run game with two outs in the sixth, and quickly saw the Orioles' deficit expand to seven runs after right-hander Gabriel Ynoa allowed one inherited runner to score, then allowed three more of his own to cross home.
"They did a really good job of battling and putting the ball in play," Gausman said. "It seemed like everywhere they hit it, they hit it where our guys weren't. You get a ground ball in a double-play situation and its just out of the reach of guys. It seems like that's kind of how it's going for us right now. This will pass, especially with the starters. It's going to turn around at some point. I wanted to be the one to kind of right the ship today and it just didn't work out that way."
After the game, Gausman could say that he threw some good pitches (he did), and his misses were closer than they've been (he was on the short end of some borderline pitches). But simply put, Gausman is still allowing too many base runners to be successful.
"Just not very good in that aspect definitely," Gausman said.
Gausman's 6.60 ERA on the season tells the story of his struggles, but his 1.92 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) and his 12.8 hits per nine innings are marks that are both the worst in the major leagues by a lot. Gausman has allowed double-digit base runners in nine of his 15 starts this season.
And at this point, it's taking away from any strides Gausman is able to make. On Friday, when Gausman retired the first two hitters he faced in the sixth inning as his pitch count went over 100, he battled through a 10-pitch at bat with Cardinals first baseman Jose Martinez. Gausman lost the at-bat after getting ahead 0-2 when Martinez took a splitter the other way for a double to right field that would chase the starter from the game.
That run would score when Ynoa yielded an RBI single to No. 9 hitter Paul DeJong, the fifth run that would be charged to Gausman's stat line.
"That was probably going to be his last hitter," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "There was some debate in my mind about letting him go out in the sixth and he came out and I thought it would be good for him and his confidence. He got two quick outs and that long at-bat got him. They had a lot of long at-bats. It kind of ran up his pitch count as opposed to their guy. He was just the opposite. What, did we strike out 10 or 11 of their guys tonight? But there was a lot of damage in between."
Gausman allowed nine hits and three walks, marking the seventh straight game that he has allowed at least eight hits. He has allowed double-digit base runners in five out those outings.
Gausman allowed two runs in the third with a bases-loaded walk and a sacrifice fly, then yielded a two-run homer to DeJong with two outs in the fourth, damage that would have been worse had Hyun Soo Kim not thrown out Aledmys Diaz trying to stretch a leadoff single into a double.
The Cardinals also fouled off 24 of Gausman's 116 pitches, including eight in the sixth inning. Four of those foul balls were in the Martinez at-bat, including one that Gausman thought was a whiff that home plate umpire Pat Hoberg said was a foul tip.
"One of the things, when you're pitching well and do get behind the count, maybe lead off a guy with a breaking ball, ambush him with a fastball and you miss, his ability to get a fastball strike," Showalter said. "He's having trouble getting the count back in his favor. They're able to box out some pitches on him unless he can get a breaking ball over behind in the count. The one quality that pitchers when they're pitching well, they can locate a fastball down and away to get back in the count. It's been a little bit of a challenge for him."