Going into any Yankees game, you figure you have six innings to get your runs before Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman close things out. All three were available tonight. The O’s just couldn’t get much going against previously struggling starter Ivan Nova, and wasted a pretty good Kevin Gausman start, again.
The turning point, in retrospect, came in the game’s very first half-inning. The O’s loaded the bases in the top of the first inning, with Ivan Nova struggling with his command. He gave up a weak single to Adam Jones, who advanced to second base on Jonathan Schoop’s grounder. Manny Machado swung at a 12-6 curve in the dirt for a decidedly non-POFO (Productive Outs For Orioles). Mark Trumbo then walked on four pitches nowhere near the zone, and after Mark Wieters took one off the front foot, Pedro Alvarez promptly wasted the opportunity by hitting a foul pop-out to the third baseman Chase Headley. It felt like it was a matter of time before the Orioles got to Ivan Nova. But they never did.
Kevin Gausman’s first inning woes are well-documented, and MASN decided to remind us that he’s given up nine runs and five home runs in the first inning of his 15 starts. He started great today, getting the first two outs on just five pitches on grounders to Jonathan Schoop. But a double to Carlos Beltran and a flyout to Fun Police Brian McCann took 13 pitches to complete the inning, finishing at 18 pitches.
Alex Rodriguez had hit 695 home runs prior to tonight, and launched a ball in the second inning to make it 696. Gausman continued to struggle with his control, and finished two innings with 38 pitches thrown. Schoop hit a home run of his own to tie the game in the top of the third inning.
The third inning brought more pitch count problems for Gausman. Brett Gardner singled, and after Jacoby Ellsbury popped out to 3B, Gardner took third base on a single by Carlos Beltran, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Brian McCann. Nothing hit especially hard, and yet Gausman and the Orioles were down 2-1. It felt rather ominous.
And then we can pretty much fast forward to the end of the game. By this point, the Orioles had stranded six runners in the first four innings, and they wouldn’t get many more chances. Nova set down the last 10 batters he saw, and was followed by Bentances, Miller and Chapman, who did what they do.
Kevin Gausman sat down 12 batters in a row before a two-out single by Rob Refsnyder. He was still throwing 97 on his last strikeout of Chase Headley in the 7th inning. Donnie Hart came on, threw two pitches, and Matt Wieters gunned down Refsnyder easily at second base. Hart got two outs in the 8th, Chaz Roe retired A-Rod on one pitch in the 8th.
But the Orioles just could not get on base. Mark Trumbo finally blooped a single into right-center field in the 8th, and it was the first O’s baserunner since the 4th inning. He was promptly erased on a double play with Matt Wieters batting. The Orioles went down quietly against Chapman and his 105 mph fastball in the 9th, with only Nolan Reimold managing a walk on a 99 mph Ball Four, the slowest pitch he saw in the at-bat.
Simply put, Kevin Gausman deserved better. He went 6.2 IP, gave up just two runs on six hits, a walk, and a solo home run while notching six strikeouts. This Orioles offense, against this pitcher, should have scored more than one run. Kevin Gausman did not deserve to lose this game because of one bad pitch to Alex Rodriguez.
But Clint Eastwood said it best: “Deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.”