Kevin Gausman's gritty performance in Wednesday's 3-0 loss to the Seattle Mariners was overshadowed by right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma's no-hitter, but the Orioles right-hander's mettle was critical to preserving an overworked bullpen.
It appeared that Gausman was heading for an early exit Wednesday, as he needed 67 pitches to get through three innings. But Gausman was able to minimize his pitches through the middle innings on his way to a seven-inning quality start, throwing a career-high 113 pitches.
In rebounding from a rough start Friday in Anaheim, when he was charged with six runs in over 5 2/3 innings, Gausman had his third quality start in four outings while setting a career high with eight strikeouts.
The Orioles bullpen had to account for 6 2/3 innings in Tuesday's 10-inning loss to the Mariners, so it was important to get a deep start from Gausman.
"Just knowing that we kind of got beat up in the bullpen yesterday, I knew I was going to have to go and just grind through that," Gausman said. "Whether it was 120 or 125 pitches, it was kind of what I know I was going to have to do today."
Gausman fell behind 2-0 in the third on a pair of two-out run-scoring hits — Franklin Gutierrez's RBI double followed by Robinson Cano's run-scoring single. No. 9 hitter Jesus Sucre added an RBI double that landed just inside the right-field line in the fourth.
"I definitely had to grind that out and really after the fourth was when I started pitching," Gausman said. "I think I relied too much on my fastball early on and early on, it was really good. When I was trying to go up, I could go up and then there were just a couple pitches I left middle. ... Just started mixing and got some quick outs in the sixth and seventh, so that was huge."
Despite falling behind, Gausman recorded six of his first eight outs by strikeout.
"When your stuff's that good and you're striking out that many people, your pitch count is going to be high because guys are taking a lot of pitches," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "There's not much coming out of his hand that looks like something you want to swing at. So guys like him are going to have some high pitch counts, but guys like him are going to get some outs early in the count that he wasn't getting earlier."