On a chilly night with the roof closed at The Rogers Centre, the Orioles returned to Toronto for the first time since being knocked out of the playoffs last year. Well, unless any of them took a Canadian vacation in the offseason that we don’t know about. They only managed a pair of runs against Francisco Liriano, but it would prove to be enough with Kevin Gausman taking the hill for the O’s.
The Goose Lets Loo—Reins It In?
In his first two starts of the season, Kevin Gausman appeared as though he was trying to go Super Sayian (hair and all), and the results were uneven. Despite looking filthy, he had surrendered seven walks and five earned runs in 10 innings over two starts. This time around, he looked calm and in control on his way to a much-improved final line of 6.0IP 5H 1R 2BB 3SO.
Gausman rolled through the first five innings tonight, getting lots of ground outs and the occasional strike out on his way to absolute Gausficiency. It was a beautiful thing. He faced the minimum number of batters through the first two innings, aided by a slick double play in the second where J.J. Hardy ranged up the middle and flipped the ball straight out of his glove to the human cannon known as “Jonathan Schoop,” easily completing the 6-4-3 GDP. Look for that play on the highlight reels tomorrow.
By the time the third inning ended, Gausman had only thrown 31 pitches. Gausficiency. It’s a thing, and it’s a thing that works well. What really got Kevin Gausman in trouble in his first couple of starts was his lack of command, and by extension, his lack of pitch efficiency. If he can stay off of the adrenaline train and pitch like this more regularly, Orioles fans may actually be able to have nice things this season.
It wasn’t all gravy tonight for The Goose, however, as he started to come unraveled in the bottom of the sixth. After a quick top of the sixth where Machado and Trumbo both got themselves out on the first pitch, Gausman had to rush back out to the mound. It’s unclear whether general fatigue, or said lack-of-a-breather in between the fifth and sixth innings were to blame for what happened next—but it happened regardless.
Ezequiel Carrera innocently grounded out to start the inning, but Jose “Enemy of Birdland” Bautista followed-up with a double over Adam Jones’s head. Josh Donaldson didn’t think that one double in the inning was enough, so he added his own, scoring Bautista in the very next at bat. The silver lining on this play for Donaldson-haters is that he tweeked his already injured calf muscle legging out the double, and came out of the game. Look, I never cheer for an injury, but... well, okay. I never cheer for an injury...
Jarrod Saltalamacchialasalcchiamachtiasaltson (95% sure on that spelling) came in to pinch run for the lifted Josh Donaldson. After walking Kendrys Morales, and inducing a fly ball out from Troy Tulowitzki, Kevin Gausman got Russell Martin to pop out harmlessly to Jonathan Schoop to end the inning. It had the feel of an inning that could have been bigger, but the calm, collected Gausman worked his way out of it with some nice pitching on the back end.
Opposing Kevin Gausman tonight was a mediocre pitcher that throws with his left hand (read: Orioles Kryptonite). The Orioles entered tonight’s match-up with a 1-2 record against left-handed starting pitchers, and their struggles against southpaws have been well-documented in recent years.
Liriano followed in the shoes of countless soft-tossing lefties, making the Orioles look silly at the plate for most of his start. He was tossing in all sorts of junk seemingly wherever and whenever he pleased. He tallied 10Ks in 6.2 innings pitched. Yikes! Yes, six of them were against early favorite for the Jake Fox award, Craig Gentry, and only same-handed batter in the lineup, Chris Davis, but it was still ugly to witness.
Much like Gausman, Francisco Liriano was really good, right up until a defined point in the game. For Gausman that point was the sixth; for Liriano it was the fifth inning when he finally blinked.
Welington Castillo lead off the inning with a looping single to right field. On the very next pitch, Trey Mancini shot a laser the other way, also into right field, and also good for a single. On the pitch following that, Jonathan Schoop blasted a double against the base of the outfield wall. Castillo scored easily, and Bobby Dickerson played a rookie prank on Mancini, waving him around third too. Trey was out by roughly an entire mile, or 1,609 meters for our Canadian friends. It was an eventful three pitches! Deciding to do his part in the mini-rally, J.J. Hardy came up next and smashed a single into left-center, scoring Schoop from second.
That’s where the hiccup ended, as Craig Gentry would strike out for the third time on the night, followed by Jose Bautista robbing Adam Jones of extra bases up against the right field fence. Fortunately the two runs scored in the inning would be enough for the “W.”
The Late Lock-Down
Joe Biagini, Joe Smith, Darren O’Day, and Brad Brach combined on both sides to throw 4.1 innings where nobody reached base. The only reliever to allow anybody to reach tonight was superstar closer for the Orioles, Zach Britton.
In the bottom of the ninth, Zach Britton flirted with blowing his 52-consecutive-saves-converted streak by allowing a one out single, a walk, and throwing a wild pitch. The Blue Jays had runners on second and third with one down. A hit right there could have ended it all. However, Britton rallied to induce a ground out from Kevin Pillar, and then got Steve Pearce to fly out to Adam Jones. Game over. Britton converted his 53rd consecutive save opportunity, and more importantly, the Orioles got the win, improving to 6-2 on the season.
The O’s are back in action tomorrow at 7:07 (must be a Canadian thing) against the now 1-8 Blue Jays. Wade Miley will toe the rubber against Aaron Sanchez. Hold on to your seats!
Who was the Most Birdland Player for April 13, 2017?
This poll is closed
Kevin Gausman (6.0IP 5H 1R 2BB 3SO, Win!)
Jonathan Schoop (2-3, 2 2Bs, RBI, Slick double play)
Darren O’Day (1.0IP 0H 0R 0BB 1SO, Hold)
Brad Brach (1.0IP 0H 0R 0BB 2SO, Hold)
Zach Britton (1.0IP 0R, Save!)