Kevin Gausman pitches gem, but Orioles lose 5-2 to Tigers on eighth-inning grand slam

Orioles reliever Mychal Givens went over a month without allowing a run before a grand slam by Detroit Tigers outfielder Justin Upton in the eighth inning turned a one-run Orioles lead into a 5-2 loss Friday night at Camden Yards.

The Orioles dropped their second straight game to fall to 53-56.


The first two batters Givens (7-1) faced — catcher James McCann and shortstop José Iglesias — sliced singles to right field, and after Givens walked right fielder Jim Adduci with one out, Upton hit the first pitch he saw out to left field.

"Unfortunately, one got a lot of the plate there with the left fielder, Upton," manager Buck Showalter said. "But he's been throwing as good as anybody. You put a long list of [top] relievers together, he's right there with them. But tonight just bit him. There's a lot more to that game."


Said Givens: "First two guys got little bloop singles and they started a rally. That kind of gave them the momentum, getting those two guys on. ... It was a pitch I thought I could have got over. But he's a good hitter. He's a hot hitter right now. He's one of the top hitters in the league for a reason. He hit a good pitch, and it went out."

Before that, the Orioles had gotten the type of pitching they've expected from right-hander Kevin Gausman all season, even if he's only just begun to deliver it consistently.

Gausman continued his midseason renaissance with seven innings of three-hit, one-run ball to deliver the game to the bullpen with the Orioles holding a 2-1 lead.

Chris Tillman continues to struggle, leaving club with few options other than relief role

Gausman, coming off a career-long 8 2/3 innings of scoreless ball Saturday night at the Texas Rangers, allowed a home run to Adduci with one out in the first inning, and saw Upton double immediately after it, but got out of the jam with just the one run in. Only one Tiger went past first base against him the rest of his day.


"I was thinking watching [Justin] Verlander and him both, they gave up home runs and the next pitch were strikes and they get right back in it where you see a lot of guys let it get away from them a little bit emotionally," Showalter said. "Kevin looked every bit the part as Verlander did tonight."

Gausman's pitch count was run up by problems with two strikes — 39 of his first 79 pitches came in two-strike counts — but he still managed to get through seven innings allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out eight.

"I think they just did a really good job of fouling off good pitches," Gausman said. "I would get to two strikes then miss location, and good pitches I'd throw would be a foul ball. They did a good job battling me. But they also helped me out a couple times, swinging at the first pitch and getting some quick outs, too. That definitely allowed me to go deeper."

Gausman had a 6.39 ERA after getting bombed by the Chicago Cubs on the first day of the second half of the season, but since then has allowed two runs on 19 hits with 32 strikeouts against nine walks over four starts to lower his ERA to 5.15 on the season.

"He was really good," Showalter said. "The patience was because we knew Kevin was better than that. Some of the patience we had to have, not had to have but want to have because of their track record. Kevin doesn't have a long one, but we know he's capable of better than that. There's a lot of things that he and [pitching coach Roger McDowell] have been working very hard about executing location of pitches, and that's really what's changed."

Rally killer: The Orioles had runners on second and third with one out in the seventh inning before an unfortunate sequence conspired to end things quickly. With two strikes, catcher Caleb Joseph had a high-and-tight pitch hit his hands as he turned to protect himself, bringing his bat through the zone in the process. The umpires ruled him out, though the ball appeared to hit Joseph's bat, which would have made it a dead ball.

Showalter came out to argue that he'd checked his swing, but didn't influence the umpires.

"Check swing," Showalter said. "That's one of the things I've been talking about is having a couple of reviews for check swings. It's the one play that's impossible for the umpires to really know for sure. Obviously, the intent isn't to swing. You go by intent, it's pretty easy. Jeff [Nelson] is a good umpire, he's trying to get it right. I disagree with him, but that was a split-second decision. I'd probably feel differently if I was in the other dugout."

Joseph said he was trying to protect himself, not swing, at a 100 mph fastball bound for his head.

"Apparently, on the slow-[motion] cam, it hit my hand and as I was continuing to turn to avoid the ball hitting me right in the teeth, the bat came through and it ricocheted off the barrel," Joseph said. "But the hands are part of the bat when you swing with two strikes. So, the umpire deemed that I was intently trying to swing the bat. So, I was called out."

Left fielder Craig Gentry flew out to end the threat.

Oriole notes: Manny Machado reflects on the triple play he turned with Jonathan Schoop and Chris Davis

Beckham bombs: Shortstop Tim Beckham is certainly making an impression with his new club this week.

With a home run in his first at-bat and three singles for a 4-for-4 day, the newly-acquired shortstop made it four straight multihit games since coming to Baltimore from the Tampa Bay Rays.

The home run was his sixth extra-base hit with the Orioles.

Power stroke found: While third baseman Manny Machado has certainly turned his season around over the past month from a batting average perspective, he did it all without managing to hit a home run. Since his most recent home run on July 7, Machado had hit .333/.390/.425 in 22 games to bring his average up to .248 entering Friday.

With a single in the first inning and his home run in the third inning, which was his 19th of the season, Machado's average is back up to .250.

He also made a typically sensational defensive play in the fifth inning, falling to his right to reach behind him and snare a hard line drive by Iglesias.

It was the glove work of his buddy Jonathan Schoop that proved more impressive, though, as Schoop fielded several hard-hit balls and converted them to outs behind Gausman.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun