When you're a former first-round draft pick trying to become a reliable major league starting pitcher on your path to much more, one bad start can constitute a funk.
That's the word Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman used to describe where he was after a season-low three innings in which he allowed six runs on seven hits in a 6-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday.
"It's frustrating," Gausman said. "I'm kind of in a little funk right now."
Such is the pressure on a pitcher in a scuffling rotation, where even when your previous two outings were quality starts, every time you take the ball is an opportunity to settle your team's pitching staff.
"Especially with after the way [Chris] Tillman pitched last night, I was really excited in wanting to be the stopper again today," Gausman said. "Didn't do it. In a game where against a team that's really good, in obviously a series that means a lot right now, I wanted to come out and hit the ground running and pitch well and I just didn't do that."
To hear manager Buck Showalter tell it, Gausman's fastball was as crisp as it has been all season.
"You could tell he felt good, almost maybe too good," Showalter said.
Those good feelings ended after the fastball. Gausman said he couldn't command his breaking ball or changeup, so he leaned too heavily on his fastball and paid for it.
"They came out looking for a fastball, and I thought today was one of the best command days I had with my fastball," Gausman said. "But when you have to rely on that, you are just kind of putting yourself in bad situations."
The defining pitch of the game, which resulted in a three-run home run by first baseman Hanley Ramirez that doubled Boston's lead from 3-0 to 6-0 in the third inning, was one of those off-speed pitches that he couldn't locate.
"I was just trying to throw a breaking ball down," Gausman said. "It kind of went out of my hand and backed up. It was probably the worst one I threw all day."
Gausman fell to 0-4 with a 4.14 ERA, and the six runs allowed were a season high.
"It's going to happen," designated hitter Mark Trumbo said. "He was aggressive, but it seemed like they were kind of in sync with what was going on. They didn't miss any pitches. He didn't get any breaks. A team like this, they're prone to do that. You just kind of have to wear it and look forward to the next time."