The Orioles announced before Saturday's game that right-hander Kevin Gausman is scheduled to start the team's regular-season finale on Sunday at Yankee Stadium with a postseason berth on the line.
"When the smoke clears we'll look and see if there's anything that might change that, but I don't foresee that right now," manager Buck Showalter said after the Orioles' 7-3 loss to the New York Yankees.
The Orioles entered Saturday's game able to clinch a postseason spot with a win, but their loss to the Yankees meant their playoff fate wouldn't be decided until Sunday's final scheduled day of the regular season.
Gausman — who owns a 1.32 ERA in two starts at Yankee Stadium this year and is 2-0 with an 0.85 ERA in five starts against New York this season — will be pitching with serious playoff implications.
"It's going to be fun," Gausman said. "Hopefully, we can get the job done today and kind of put our stamp on one of those two spots, but yeah, it's going to be fun. If you had told me at the beginning of the season this is the situation that I was going to be in and had the chance to secure a spot for us, I'd say I'd take that chance and take that responsibility, so it's pretty exciting."
Gausman has not only seen success against the Yankees, but his second-half ERA of 3.15 is a full run lower than it was in the first half, and he is 4-2 with a 2.38 ERA over his last seven starts dating back to Aug. 25.
"I think I always get better as the season goes on," Gausman said. "It seems like every year I'm at my best towards the end of the year. That's kind of what you strive for."
In the Orioles' most-recent trip to the postseason two seasons ago, Gausman was used out of the bullpen after spending the entire year in the rotation. Though he didn't start, he played a key role, allowing just one run in eight postseason relief innings, including 3 2/3 innings of long relief that kept Game 2 of the ALDS close before Delmon Young's game-winning three-run double.
Now, there's no question any postseason contributions will come as a starter.
"I think in 2014, I really didn't know for sure what I was going to do and then obviously they told me, and I was excited about that," Gausman said. "...I felt like I was throwing great so when I went out there, it was kind of doing the same thing and you just throw a little bit harder. You get that adrenaline in the playoffs, so I'm kind of excited to kind of start the game and be the guy who gets the ball to start a postseason game and I've always thought, being a starting pitcher, it's your game, especially more in the postseason than ever. You kind of control the outcome of the game."
Showalter saw Teixeira overcome hazing as a rookie: Yankees first baseman and Severna Park native Mark Teixeira will play in his final major league game Sunday against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium. Teixeira will be honored with a pregame ceremony before the game.
Locally, Teixeira will be remembered for his decision to sign with the Yankees over his hometown Orioles before the 2009 season, something Baltimore still hasn't forgotten eight years later. During Teixeira's final game in Baltimore earlier this month, he was still booed heavily.
But Showalter, who was Teixeira's first big league manager with the Texas Rangers, brought a new story of Teixeira's mettle, detailing how impressed he was with how a 23-year-old Teixeira overcame a massive amount of hazing from Rangers veterans as a rookie.
"When I first got to Texas, we had some bad role models…and some of the hazing, Mark rose above it," Showalter said. "Mark worked his way through it. … I'd check with him about once a week and some of those guys beat up him pretty good, and I said, 'You know the thing that bothers me the most is when you're trying to get to the big leagues, you think it's going to be the best clubhouse, the best fields, the best umpires, the best teammates.'"
Showalter said that over Teixeira's 14-year career, he's seen Teixeira take that to heart as he's taken it upon himself to mentor younger players. This year, Teixeira is one of the few veterans remaining in a Yankees clubhouse that turned to youth in the second half.
"I said, 'Mark, someday you're going to be that guy and you're going to have the chance to make somebody's path easier, so remember all the stuff you're going through and think about what a great impact you're going to have on some young players lives,'" Showalter said. "And I watch him a lot. … He goes out of his way now. He has a long memory about that. You'd love to see your daughter walk through the door with him. I'll tell you that."
Around the horn: The Peter Angelos-owned horse named after Showalter placed second in its first race of the year, the seventh race at Laurel Park on Saturday. "Showalter," which suffered a hoof injury in his last race back in December, received national attention after winning its first race in October. The 3-year-old's second-place finish on Saturday netted it $11,466 in earnings. The horse has now placed in two of its three races. The horse is owned by Angelos' Marathon Farms. … After RF Michael Bourn's two-run single in the second inning, he reached base in six straight plate appearance (four hits and two walks). ... DH Mark Trumbo's four hits Saturday matched a season-high and marked his fifth time in his last eight games that he's posted multiple hits.