SARASOTA, FLA. — Orioles starter Kevin Gausman was mad at himself, but it wasn't because he gave up a towering home run to Pittsburgh Pirates star Andrew McCutchen in his second Grapefruit League start. He was more disturbed by the leadoff walk to catcher Francisco Cervelli that set up the two-run blast that marred an otherwise strong performance.
"He's a perfectionist type," manager Buck Showalter said soon after Gausman pitched four solid innings in the Orioles' 9-3 victory at Ed Smith Stadium. "Almost to a fault. It's not good enough. He's a tough grader of himself. That's why you trust that he's got a chance to be as good as he's capable of being."
Gausman flew through the first three innings before giving up three runs in the fourth. The two that scored on the McCutchen home run were the first he has given up in six exhibition innings.
"I felt really good," Gausman said. "This is my second game, really. I felt good to get through four innings. That was my end goal. Even my last inning, I gave up a couple of runs, but I only did it in 17 pitches. That's a goal of mine is to not let the inning just kind of completely get away from you. You're going to give up runs, but if you can minimize your pitches in every inning, you're still going to go deep in the game and kind of give your team a chance to win, so I felt good about that."
Several Orioles starters have struggled through the first half of the exhibition schedule, but Gausman has been one of the exceptions. He said that he's confident the overall performance of the rotation will improve over the final 2½ weeks of camp.
"I would say so," he said. "It's definitely a process. Early on, a lot of guys are kind of fine-tuning mechanics, just trying to find everything. It's a little bit different in spring training. It's a different schedule, different everything, so it takes a little bit to get used to it. But I know we're all excited to get the regular season started and get the ball every fifth day, definitely."
Kim coming around? Hyun Soo Kim delivered his first multihit performance of the spring, but still seems to have a knack for getting on base without hitting the ball hard. His first hit was a soft liner that Jordy Mercer leapt high to glove, but the ball popped out. His second hit was a sharp grounder to the hole on the left side that third baseman Cole Figueroa also got a glove on before it skipped away.
Kim went hitless in his first 23 at-bats of the spring and he has not hit the ball with authority, but lately he has quietly made good on the on-base potential the Orioles brought him to display. He has reached base eight times in his past 16 plate appearances.
Showalter, who sat down with Kim and his interpreter Tuesday night to discuss his progress, said that Wednesday's performance was the best Kim has looked at the plate this spring.
McFarland returns: Left-hander T.J. McFarland made his first exhibition appearance since suffering elbow soreness 10 days ago. He pitched a perfect seventh inning.
"It was good to get Mac out there," Showalter said. "He was crisp and felt real good afterward, so that's a good sign."
McFarland took the mound right after Dylan Bundy pitched two scoreless innings, which set him up to get the victory when the Orioles stormed back from a three-run deficit with four runs while he was the pitcher of record.
"That's about Dylan's best," Showalter said. "… I talked to him a little bit today about his tempo. I thought his tempo was a lot better. And I know after his last outing he was really wanting to get extended, which we were able to do today."
Around the horn: Left-hander Brian Matusz, who has been recovering from a back strain, is expected to get back into exhibition action this weekend. … Jimmy Paredes is out of his cast and the team believes he might be ready to resume baseball activities in about a week.