Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel let rookie Kevin Gausman sit for about a half inning after the 22-year-old's rough performance against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday night before approaching him.
Hammel just wanted Gausman to know two things: 1. We've all been there. 2. You will be successful here.
"I just asked him how he felt. He said he felt good. I just asked him, 'Did things kind of speed up on you a little bit?' That's what it kind of looked like from out vantage point," Hammel said. "That's just the nature of the beast, how a competitive guy really wants to rise to the challenge and really starts pushing harder. And in that situation, you've just got to kind of step back and slow things down. It's his second start in the big leagues, things like that are going to happen. I just tried to let him know things are going to be fine. His stuff plays at this level."
Gausman, the club's top pick last year who shot through the system and skipped Triple-A, lasted just four innings against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, giving up seven runs on eight hits, including three homers.
"I've only had two starts and all the pitches that I leave up are the ones that get hit pretty far and pretty hard," Gausman said. "That's something I've got to keep working at and try to get back to what I've been doing the entire season when I was in [Double-A] Bowie. Just get better."
Gausman can take solace in the words he heard Tuesday from the 30-year-old Hammel, who, in his first two starts in the big leagues in 2006, put up nearly identical results: 10 earned runs in 8 1/3 innings. Gausman has yielded 11 runs in nine innings.
"I know that my stuff plays here. I can kind of feel it when those guys come up to me," Gausman said. "When I came out, Hammel came up to me. He talked about his debut and all the struggles he's been through in his career. That's good to know these guys feel like I belong here."
Hammel said he figured Gausman could use a little empathy from a fellow big leaguer.
"It's crazy being the old guy now and seeing other guys go through this. So that's why I wanted to talk to him," Hammel said. "It's nice knowing that I've been through it, that we've all been through it. It's just the matter of him not beating himself up and just coming back to work."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said after the game that Gausman would make his next scheduled start Sunday against the Detroit Tigers, the best hitting team in baseball. That's a pretty tall task after losing to the Toronto Blue Jays and Nationals. But Hammel said he believes Gausman can handle it. And Gausman needs to believe it, too.
"It's the big leagues; this is the best of the best. He knows what he brings to the table. It's honestly what I was doing earlier this year, just trying too hard instead of letting things happen," Hammel said. "Obviously, he is very, very young. And still has things to learn. But it is not easy to learn at the big league level without finding some type of doubt when things go wrong. But he is strong enough and confident enough that I'm not really worried about it."