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Even though Kevin Gausman allowed 10 hits in his most recent start Saturday against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Orioles right-hander viewed the outing as a step forward from a rocky beginning to his season because he was still able to grind through six innings for his third quality start through 10 games.

"Even when I came out of the game, I was talking to somebody about that in the dugout," Gausman said Wednesday. "When you're getting just shellacked out there and balls are going for doubles in the gap, home runs, those type of things, you get a feeling like, 'OK, I better step up my game.' But it's the opposite when it's the other way. Even when guys were getting hits, I was like, 'OK, they got a single, but I'm getting a lot of ground balls tonight. I have a chance to get out of it with one ground ball.' You feel confident in yourself. I felt good with that start."

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Gausman hopes to build on that in Friday's series opener against the Houston Astros. And with the Orioles having lost 10 of their past 13 games, they need a strong start from Gausman to help emerge from their funk.

"Those are the starts which I think are good to kind of get me going, those ones where you really have to struggle to get through but you're able to finish and get through six," Gausman said. "I should have gotten further in the game, but my pitch count kind of went up later in those last two innings, so you just try to minimize at that point."

Gausman has shown signs of turning the corner. He has quality starts in two of his past three outings, and his best start of the season came three starts ago against a strong Washington Nationals lineup on May 8. He held the Nationals to two runs on five hits over seven innings while striking out a season-high eight batters that day.

"I just think it was kind of a weird start to the season for me," Gausman said. "My fastball was doing stuff that it's never done before. It was weird trying to figure out why it was doing that and what I needed to change. But I feel like I'm on the right track. Fastball command is getting better and I think I'm attacking hitters better, getting 0-1 more than I was earlier in the season. So anytime you do that, it's definitely going to help you.

"But yeah, I feel like I'm right there. I just feel like I have to put it all together. I did it in my start against Washington. I definitely felt like that was my best start this year and I've just got to get deeper into games and be more consistent."

Gausman pinned his early struggles on some mechanical flaws, but also said he might have been putting too much pressure on himself, and maybe was literally putting too much pressure on the baseball.

"I don't know if this has anything to do with it, but maybe just gripping the ball a little too hard," he said. "Like I said, trying to do too much. My fastball was cutting and sinking. That's really good and I wish I could harness that and figure out how to do that every single pitch, but that's not me. I got away with it for a couple starts, and even had a good start in Toronto, where I kind of figured out where to start it and where it was going to end. But that's not me. … I have to be able to throw that fastball down and away and have it stay true."

eencina@baltsun.com
twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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