Game 52: Orioles (28-23) @ Nationals (26-25), 7:05

Tom Szczerbowski

It's start number two of the Kevin Gausman Epoch. Here's hoping it goes better than the first start.

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On the second day of Gausmas, the baseball gods gave to us a Washington Nationals lineup that does not feature Bryce Harper, because he's got bursitis, possibly connected to that time he ran into that fence in Los Angeles. When was the last time you ran into a fence?

Kevin Gausman gets his second MLB start tonight. There was plenty of promise in the first start, but putting it all together is always another story. We all saw how the fastball command got lost at some point and then he had problems. Nerves probably played into it as well. Buck Showalter always says, "You can't mess up the good ones," although that makes me wonder how close he paid attention to the Orioles before he arrived on the scene. Plenty of seemingly-good ones got messed up, or perhaps they were just never as good as we thought. Brian Matusz, we're all looking at you.

So much to be excited about with Gausman. But it is, of course, his second start, so we might not see it all tonight. Good as he is, these are major league hitters, and even ones who aren't as good, aren't scoring as many runs relative to the rest of the league, are leaps and bounds beyond AA hitters.

It's a night for the recently-promoted AA pitchers, because the Nationals have called up Nate Karns to start the game. How much of a hotshot prospect can a guy be when he's 25 and just getting the call-up from AA? I don't know, but he was ranked the #6 Nats prospect over the offseason by John Sickels of Minor League Ball. The start of his professional career was derailed by the dreaded labrum problems and he has worked his way up since. Minor league stats don't tell everything, but he enjoyed success at every level up to this year, when he's pitched to a 4.60 ERA in his AA starts.

Maybe they had him working on things and he wasn't at his best, or maybe he struggled to adjust to the level. If the latter is the case, he's in for a big surprise in his MLB debut. As Orioles fans, we can certainly hope for the latter.

Nick Markakis brings a 12-game hitting streak into tonight's game. I've been down on Markakis a lot lately, because he spent much of the season being out-OPSed by Steve Pearce, has no speed in the outfield, no arm strength, and had declining power for several years as he moved through his prime. But there's always room for a guy hitting .305/.357/.427. He has an .863 OPS against righties - and Karns is a righty. If he gets a hit in tonight's game, that would tie him with J.J. Hardy for the longest Orioles hitting streak of the season.

Speaking of Hardy, he's batting .281/.310/.531 in May. Yes, please.


BALTIMORE ORIOLES WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Nate McLouth - LF Denard Span - CF
Manny Machado - 3B Steve Lombardozzi - 2B
Nick Markakis - RF Ryan Zimmerman - 3B
Adam Jones - CF Adam LaRoche - 1B
Chris Davis - 1B Ian Desmond - SS
Matt Wieters - C Tyler Moore - LF
J.J. Hardy - SS Roger Bernadina - RF
Yamaico Navarro - 2B Kurt Suzuki - C
Kevin Gausman - P Nate Karns - P

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