Orioles manager Buck Showalter is the first to point out that over the course of his first four starts this season, right-hander Kevin Gausman had "plus stuff with command."
Yet it was Sunday's slog of a start, when Gausman lacked both his stuff and command while allowing a season-high 14 base-runners, that impressed Showalter most.
"There's going to be some days when it's a day game, a hitter-friendly team, as good an offensive team as there in our league that's mad as a hornet's nest trying to get it going," Showalter said. "He fought his way through it. That's why I say in some ways, that's as impressive an outing as the other ones have been."
Gausman was fortunate to have left the game with a lead after the fifth inning. He'd allowed four runs to that point, and shortstop Manny Machado's 11th home run of the season gave the Orioles a 5-4 advantage in the bottom half of the frame. Gausman was in line for his first win of 2016.
Neither Gausman nor the Orioles got one, and the team had to settle for taking just three of four in the series.
"Obviously, not one of my best outings, but just tried to grind," said Gausman, who recorded just one strikeout. "It seemed like every inning I had guys on base, pitching out of the stretch a lot. My command definitely wasn't what it usually is. I just tried to grind. I think I had bases loaded twice with one out, so just tried to minimize in those situations."
Those two innings in particular encouraged Showalter, who said Gausman getting out of two bases-loaded jams in the second and third innings with only one run in kept the Orioles competitive in the game.
"I think that's one thing I've kind of matured in, is not letting the game get away from me," Gausman said. "In the past, the situation that I was in the whole game with runners on, I think in the past I kind of give in a little bit. That might lead to walks, but it's about making quality major league pitches. A lot of those pitches that you make aren't going to be strikes, necessarily, but I was happy with some of the pitches I made and obviously I left a couple up."
Gausman now has a 3.00 ERA and a 1.067 WHIP in 30 innings.