Tonight was the debut of Kevin Gausman, a night we were all waiting for. The hopes were high and the powdered donuts were purchased. But someone forgot to tell the Blue Jays that tonight wasn't about them and they went and ruined everything. Well, they ruined it with a little help from Troy Patton, Pedro Strop, T.J. McFarland, and Gausman himself.
The O's offense tried to make a game of it, scoring six runs thanks in part to three home runs and another three double night from Manny Machado, but it just wasn't enough to compensate for the total disaster that was tonight's pitching.
Let's start with the reason we all tuned in: Kevin Gausman. There were definitely things about Gausman's night that were promising, and for those of us watching him pitch for the first time, it was nice to see what he had to offer. His fastball was in the upper 90s and even touched 99 a few times and his change up was pretty too. But he couldn't keep the ball down in the zone and had trouble throwing non-fastballs for strikes. Still, he racked up five strikeouts against two walks in five innings, and if not for a fastball that completely missed its mark in fifth inning, resulting in J.P. Arencibia destroying it for a two-run homer, he might have ended up with a much better line on the night.
For a guy who had never pitched above double A, and who only had 46 AA innings to boot, it's not all that surprising. It's not what we were hoping for, but there you go. Now we have to wait and see what Gausman does in the future and how he responds.
Gausman got through the first three innings without giving up a run, and just allowed one baserunner in each (two singles and walk). It took a lot of pitches for him to do so and a few balls were hit hard off of him, but there were times when he looked as we imagined. One that comes to mind was a three pitch strikeout of Emilio Bonifacio to end the second inning. Gausman just completely overmatched him with three fastballs. He also had a nice strikeout of Jose Baustista to start the fifth inning. The at bat included a change up at 82 miles per hour and a fastball at 99. That's just not fair.
The Jays scored their first two runs in the fourth inning thanks to back-to-back doubles from Adam Lind and Arencibia, and a sac fly from Bonifacio. The second two were on Arencibia's home run in the fifth with two outs. Gausman struck out Brett Lawrie to end the inning and his debut.
The Orioles gave Gausman an early lead thanks to more awesomeness from Machado and Chris Davis. Being awesome is nothing new to those guys, of course. In the top of the third, Chris Dickerson and Nate McLouth were on second and first base and they executed a beautiful double steal. I like what I've seen from Dickerson so far. With two runners in scoring position, Machado lined his second double of the night to left field.
The double gave the O's a 2-0 lead and they made it 3-0 the next inning when Davis hit his league leading 15th home run.
Going into the sixth inning the Orioles were down by just one run, a deficit easy enough to overcome. But Gausman's replacement, Troy Patton, was terrible. Patton is exhibit A in how volatile relief pitchers can be. The success he had in 2012 has gone by the wayside. He got the first two outs, but then walked two batters.
So what do you do when you have a pitcher who couldn't find the strikezone with a map? Why, you bring in another wild pitcher, of course. Pedro Strop replaced Patton and immediately walked Jose Bautista to load the bases. That set the stage for Edwin Encarnacion, who is the kind of guy who hits home runs. And he did just that, knocking a line drive off the left field foul pole for a grand slam. That gave the Jays an 8-3 lead and officially ruined Kevin Gausman Day.
The Orioles tried to fight back. J.J. Hardy doubled then eventually came in to score on a sac fly to make the score 8-4, then in the top of the 8th inning Nick Markakis and Adam Jones hit back-to-back home runs to make the score 8-6. Just when you thought the Orioles might stage an awesome rally, T.J. McFarland and the defense let the Blue Jays put the nails in the coffin with a four-run 8th inning.
McFarland had come into the game in the 7th inning after Strop walked (of course) the leadoff batter. He got three quick outs, but didn't have such success when he came back out for the 8th.
After Anthony Gose singled, Bautista hit a ground ball to shortstop. Hardy made a rare throwing error and both runners were safe. As if that wasn't enough, McFarland then threw a pitch that got past Wieters for a passed ball. Both runners moved up and Wieters tried to throw out Bautista at second. Gose ran home on the play and though the throw from Casilla was close, Gose scored.
The inning only got worse from there. Two walks, a couple singles, and a sacrifice fly later and the score was 12-6. The O's went quietly in the 9th to put an end to this ridiculous game.
So, as the headlines says, that did not go as planned. It's tough to see them lose like that, and frustrating to see the bullpen perform so poorly. But Gausman was a treat, even if he didn't throw a fantastic game. There's always next time.