In a surprising development, the Orioles strategy of placing Kevin Gausman in roster limbo for a week in order to get an extra reliever on the roster did not play out well for Gausman. Friday afternoon's starter was jerked from Norfolk, where he threw a one-inning side session in a game, to Bowie, and finally back to Baltimore to start this game. He looked like a guy who was shaky and out of his routine, turning in a poor start. He gave up five runs in five innings and the Orioles lost 5-2.
Separately, yet still connected to the loss, the Orioles offense turned in a terrible effort in the game. I know, what a shock. That never happens. They recorded only three hits in the game and went hitless from the time there was one out in the second inning until Manny Machado homered with one out in the seventh. Twice in the game, they followed a walk with a double play. That's not going to win you very many games no matter how your starter pitches.
Gausman was lucky that his day was not worse. For much of the game, he was throwing fewer strikes than balls. He threw 95 pitches total, 50 for strikes. That led him to walk four batters while only striking out one, but it also led him to give up seven hits, many on pitches where you knew previous wildness had to force him to throw one in the zone. He never gave up a home run, at least, but they got some solid shots off of him, including two quick hits in the sixth inning that chased him from the game before he recorded an out.
Would Gausman have been prone to turning in the same outing even if he had stayed with the Orioles since his last start? He probably would have been; he's still got some development to do. Sometimes it just doesn't feel like the Orioles are giving him the best chance to succeed. Yank around the marginal players you don't care about, not one of the organization's most promising players.
Gausman threw a ball on the first pitch to 14 of the 25 batters he faced. You might call that a bold strategy. It did not work out for him.
Hard as it is to believe, even for me who watched the game, it looked promising at one time. The Orioles managed to get a leadoff single by Nick Markakis and then a walk by Steve Pearce as their first two batters of the game. A pair of "productive" groundouts later and the Orioles had one run in, two outs, and a man on third. They did not score again for six innings, when Machado's fifth home run of the year sailed into the left field seats. Machado had two of the three Orioles hits.
They even managed to walk four times today, which is peculiar for them, but since they got only two hits off Rays starter Alex Colome, they did nothing with any one of those walks. That sucks. Sometimes they suck. It's stupid. You just keep feeling like they should do so much better, especially against the dregs of the American League East, which the Rays have unquestionably been so far this year. Tampa had the worst record in the majors coming into today's games. Instead, the Orioles get a few games over .500 and then turn in a stinker like this.
They have to play another game later tonight. I'm sure that will go so much better. Chris Tillman starts against Jake Odorizzi in the nightcap. You can come get an Orioles bucket hat if you're one of the first 20,000 fans to arrive. It looks pretty cool.
The O's got two scoreless innings of relief from Evan Meek, who was added to the roster today when Bud Norris was placed on the disabled list. Meek allowed an inherited runner to score. Holding the line for a couple of innings in the first game of a doubleheader when your starter goes short is about all you can ask for from a reliever. They also got two scoreless innings from Brad Brach.
The bullpen has been successful of late, allowing only one run in 23 innings over the past six games. They are 4-2 in those games.
These are the games to win to gain ground. Instead, they lost, never looking like they had any particular intention of trying very hard to win. They even denied Orioles fans a little chance for some schadenfreude by going down 1-2-3 in the eighth inning against the 5+ ERA of almost-and-thank-goodness-he-wasn't Oriole Grant Balfour.
One bright spot in the game for the Orioles was the fact that Caleb Joseph threw out two attempted base-stealers. He's now thrown out 12 runners in 24 attempts, a ridiculous 50% rate. The league average for throwing out runners is 27%; Joseph is almost doubling that. Don't run on Caleb Joseph. What a great story he's made this year.
The O's also went down 1-2-3 in the ninth against Jake McGee. They looked like they did not want to be there any more. Unfortunately for them, and perhaps for us, they have at least nine more innings to play tonight. I hope they look better in a few hours.