Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman strong in start against Rays on Saturday

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Lost in the craziness of the Orioles' 3-2 walk-off loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday afternoon was the solid start from right-hander Kevin Gausman.

Gausman's line – seven innings, five hits, two runs, four walks and seven strikeouts – probably didn't do him justice.


There were times when he was dominating, keeping the Rays off balance with his split changeup. Gausman carried good velocity all day, but he didn't press to blow fastballs by hitters and seemed to get stronger as the game progressed. The stadium radar gun at Tropicana Field clocked Gausman at 99 mph in the sixth inning.

"I feel great," Gausman said. "I think my last month I kind of had to grind a little bit more than usual, but I feel like, if I go through a bad month, I usually have a good one the next one. Physically, I feel great, my arm feels great, and I feel like I get stronger as the game goes on."

Gausman issued four walks, tying his season high, but three were to Rays leadoff hitter Ben Zobrist, who is 6-for-11 against Gausman.

Gausman might have given him some free passes, and one in particular hurt, a leadoff walk in the third that led to the Rays' first run of the game. But Gausman made sure Zobrist – who has three doubles out of his six hits against Gausman – wasn't going to cause more damage.

Take away that walk, and a line drive RBI single by Wil Myers that center fielder Adam Jones catches 90 percent of the time, and Gausman might have been reflecting back on a scoreless outing rather than a no-decision.

The Orioles said they were going to let Gausman loose down the stretch, and they have. He has been able to throw 100 pitches in five of his last seven starts.

And Gausman has now gone seven or more innings in back-to-back starts for the first time in his career. That's a big accomplishment for the 23-year-old, especially considering his biggest challenge this season has been conserving his pitch count and getting deeper into games. Before his last two outings, he reached six full innings just twice in his previous five starts.

Gausman might have four more starts left this season, but there's no doubt he will play a role in the postseason. That's why the Orioles held him back earlier in the season.

It might not be in the rotation, but maybe in the bullpen, where he flourished last season. Either way, he will be a major weapon.