“Gaus [Kevin Gausman] has pitched him well and I felt like he could get him out,’’ Showalter said. When asked why he allowed Gausman to pitch against Boston's David Ortiz, who hit a 3-run home run. (Baltimore Sun video)
Kevin Gausman was past the 100-pitch mark and he had not been nearly as overpowering as he was against the Red Sox at Fenway Park six days earlier.
David Ortiz, in the final two regular season weeks of his long career, was still David Ortiz.
That's really all you need to know about the Orioles' damaging 5-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night at Camden Yards. The Red Sox have it all going on and the Orioles need to refocus on the wild-card race, because they have very little choice now that they're five games out of first place with 11 games to go.
Ortiz, of course, launched another moonshot in the seventh inning to break up a tight game, and the Red Sox won their sixth straight while the Orioles continued to limp around the ballpark where they used to have the best record in the major leagues.
Since they left Boston after Guasman's uplifting 1-0 victory over 20-game winner Rick Porcello, the Orioles have lost four of six games and plummeted out of a division race in which they were just one game off the lead five days ago.
Gausman had held his own before the Ortiz homer Tuesday, but he was not the same pitcher who stifled the Red Sox at Fenway Park. He pitched with at least one runner on base in each of the seven innings he took the mound. He tried to wriggle off the hook after giving up a pair of no-out singles to Marco Hernandez and Mookie Betts, but after striking out Xander Bogaerts he could not put a dent in Ortiz's retirement tour.
"Against a team like this, it's tough to repeat what I did in Boston,'' said Gausman, whose record fell to 8-11 with the loss. "I just tried to keep us in the game as much as I could."
He jumped ahead 1-2 on the count before Big Papi hammered a towering drive over the center field fence to cheer the usual heavy Red Sox presence among the crowd of 20,387 and deliver a gut punch to the Orioles faithful that felt things were turning around after rookie Trey Mancini homered in his major league debut.
"I was trying to go down and away," Gausman said. "He's a tough hitter so I was trying to switch things up and go down and away. I had kind of been going at him with fastballs in and fastballs up. The second at-bat, I threw him a lot of splitters. I was trying to throw that pitch off the plate, hoping he would go after it, but he's the hitter he is because he can do that with pitches like that."
Curiously, manager Buck Showalter did not have spot left-hander Donnie Hart warming in the bullpen for that situation. Showalter does not like to use his short relief guys in games when the club is behind, but this was – by most accounts – a must-win situation if the O's were to have any chance of winning the division title.
"Gaus has pitched him well and I felt like he could get him out,'' Showalter said. "That's a decision there where you can go back and go 'What if, what if, what if.' I understand that. Gaus presented himself well . That's the reason we stuck with him in that situation before. Both of them can get out, but we just didn't get the ball where we needed it."
It didn't look like it was going to matter through the early innings. Former Orioles prospect Eduardo Rodriguez carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Mancini finally brought the crowd to life with his two-out shot into the visitor's bullpen.
Missed it by that much: The Orioles got a run back following the Ortiz home run after Jonathan Schoop led off the bottom of the seventh with a double into the left field corner and scored on an infield hit by J.J. Hardy. Hyun Soo Kim followed with a pinch-hit single to bring Adam Jones to the plate representing the tying run. Jones lined a Brad Ziegler pitch to the deepest part of the ballpark before it was hauled down by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.
Mancini's wake-up call: Mancini's second major league at-bat will never be far from his heart – or his mom's. When he broke up Rodriguez's no-hitter in the fifth inning with his first major league home run, the MASN cameras found his mom in the stands looking absolutely stunned. The game also was broadcast on the MLB Network, meaning all his friends back in Winter Haven, Fla., could see it.
Mookie's good fortune:Mookie Betts doesn't need any help. He's one of the most productive hitters in baseball and will be a strong candidate for American League MVP award, but sometimes you make your own breaks. In his case Tuesday, he had bloop singles in each of his first two at-bats and parlayed the second one into the first Red Sox run. He also hit a soft fly ball in his third at-bat but Nolan Reimold made a nice sliding catch in left field. Betts finished with three hits and two runs scored.