If Tuesday's game was Kevin Gausman's last audition to show that he should be in the big league rotation no matter what, he did not succeed in showing that to the Orioles or the world. Gausman surrendered four runs on seven hits and a walk in only 3.2 innings of work as the O's lost, 4-3, to the Rays.
The game may not have been an audition anyway. Buck Showalter seems to religiously hold back his regular starts from going against division opponents late in spring, so the fact that Gausman started the game at all could be a sign he's ticketed for the bullpen or the Norfolk rotation. We'll know soon enough what will be the outcome. Those who'd like to see the O's find space in the rotation for Gausman no matter who must be displaced will probably end up disappointed.
Most of the damage was done by the Rays in a three-run third inning. Gausman gave up a tape measure shot to David DeJesus to lead off the inning, then singles to John Jaso and Evan Longoria. In between those singles was a dropped foul pop-up by Caleb Joseph; however, the batter, Asdrubal Cabrera, was still retired on a different pop-up so the impact was minimal.
Perhaps on a better day, there wouldn't have been damage that inning at all. The next play was a ground ball to short by James Loney, but the O's, with J.J. Hardy ailing, must turn to others, like the former Padres shortstop they signed towards the beginning of spring training. Loney's grounder turned into a fielder's choice where no runners were retired thanks to a late throw to second by the shortstop.
Instead of two outs and men at the corners, there was one out and the bases were loaded. That turned what could have been a harmless fly ball from Desmond Jennings into a sacrifice fly, and a double from Logan Forsythe scored another run. Of course, the universe being what it is, the same outcomes would not have flowed necessarily from a different starting point, and in any case, part of pitching is overcoming bad luck and bad plays.
The Rays did not score again after Gausman left the game. Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia got the last out of the fourth inning and then added two more innings on top of that. Garcia allowed no hits and only one walk in that time. Brad Brach followed with two scoreless innings of one-hit ball, and Tommy Hunter tossed a perfect ninth,
It took until the sixth inning for the Orioles to get on the board at all. Chris Davis delivered a two-out double to score Adam Jones from first to get the O's their first run. In the seventh inning, spring training hero Jimmy Paredes doubled to lead off, scoring on a Jonathan Schoop single. Another spring star, Nolan Reimold, delivered the third run with a solo homer in the eighth. Unlike the last one Reimold hit in a spring training game, this one was not later deleted from the record book due to rain.
The O's actually out-hit the Rays in the game, 11-8. The Rays, however, added three walks while Orioles batters did not walk. While the O's committed two errors, neither ended up in any runs scoring. Sometimes you just lose. Thankfully it's still spring training so it doesn't count.
This game was not on TV or radio at all. That's the last spring training game where that will be the case. Only four games remain and all will be on one or the other, somewhere, if not in Baltimore.
Next up for the O's will be a contest Wednesday afternoon against the Pirates. This game will be on both MASN and 105.7 FM in Baltimore, and will be carried on MLB Network for those outside of the viewing area. Even better, it will be that rare treat: A prime-time spring training game. The game gets under way at the standard civilized baseball start time of 7:05pm Eastern.