Sometimes, you have to reach down and find something primordial. Maybe medieval. Anyone, one of those words. Something in a dark corner you don’t frequently visit. Something people don’t talk about in polite company. Sometimes, to truly find all the power within you, you have to go to places within yourself most would not want to see.
EVIL KEVIN GAUSMAN GOATEE IS BACK! And it worked!
Kevin Gausman brought his 6.07 ERA into Sunday, probably hoping against hope the hot, humid weather of July wouldn’t work to his detriment. Instead, it worked for his teammates as the O’s hit two home runs to jump all over Rays’ starter Alex Cobb.
The first two innings had all the makings of a pitchers’ duel, with Gausman using 98 mph high fastballs with a splitter he sometimes couldn’t control to limit the Rays to just one lead-off walk in the 2nd. Cobb was doing even better, getting six Orioles in a row out to start the game. But while Gausman kept cruising, Cobb did not.
Defend your position or reap the whirlwind
Gaumsan recorded five strikeouts against one walk and no hits through his first three innings. Cobb hadn’t allowed even that much through two innings, until Caleb Joseph led off the third inning with a seemingly harmless popup to the outfield that found grass before Rays’ defenders could get to it. Cobb followed that up with a hit batsman against Rubén Tejada. The ball bounced off the meaty part of Tejada’s left arm and directly onto the top of catcher Jesús Sucre’s thumb, sending the catcher into a heap in discomfort. And when your own catcher gets hurt worse than the batter on the HBP (on the same day your manager broke his ankle jogging pre-game), you know it’s not your day.
Two runners on, no one out, and just when you’re wondering how the O’s will manage to not score, Joey Rickard gives up an out on a sacrifice bunt. But he’s the #9 hitter, and he can’t hit, so we’ll allow it. Seth Smith hit a weak, weak, weak grounder back to Cobb … who turned to freeze the runner at third base and then promptly threw it into the stands when he turned back toward first base. Joseph scored, the O’s led 1-0, no out was recorded, and Manny Machado stepped to the plate.
And while Machado’s average and on-base percentage have been abysmal this year as he swings from his heels on seemingly every swing, when he connects, woo boy. It goes. And Machado sent a Cobb pitch 16 degrees into the air at 111.1 mph for a 3-run homer that was in the air for less than four seconds, and the Orioles were up 4-0. It was his first home run in 10 games and broke a 1-for-20 streak at the plate.
Add in a Mark Trumbo solo shot to lead off the 4th inning, and Tampa Bay found itself with a 5-0 deficit. All this with just three hits, two of which left the yard. Pretty efficient, huh?
Gausman does his best Ubaldo Jimenez
With one of the stingiest umpires in MLB behind the plate in Alfonso Marquez, it would seem to be the makings of a long day for Gausman. But the second time through the lineup, while not featuring as many strikeouts, wasn’t the kiss of death for Gausman. Instead, he stayed with a steady diet of fastballs and splitters, and featured his slider only a half dozen times by Gary Thorne’s count in the 6th inning.
He ended his day with seven strong innings, no runs, just two hits and two walks allowed against nine strikeouts. Pitches #100, #101 and #103 were fastballs 97 mph or faster.
“One too many batters for Cobb”
Cobb settled down after the Trumbo home run and was well ahead of Gausman on pitch count, if not the scoreboard, by the 7th inning. But as Orioles fans have seen from their own squad, he was left in one batter too many, as Gary Thorne would say on MASN broadcast.
Back-to-back singles by Joseph and Tejada should have been a sign Cobb was toast, but after getting Rickard out, Rays manager Kevin Cash decided not to replace him against Seth Smith. Smith doubled to deep center on a play where center fielder Mallex Smith face-planted at the base of the wall in his attempt to catch the ball but was unsuccessful. Joseph and Tejada scored, Cobb was done, and the Orioles led 7-0.
It’s never going to be easy
Gausman ran his scoreless inning streak to 12.2 IP counting his last start against Toronto, and took a seat for Mychal Givens to pitch the 8th. The Rays’ supposedly-injured catcher Sucre took him deep to lead off the inning with a home run, but no more scoring.
After the O’s left two runners on in the bottom of the 8th (Caleb Joseph went 3-for-4 on three singles that probably didn’t travel 600 feet combined), Miguel Castro came in to pitch the 9th and aside from a harmless double, shut the door.
The Orioles are now 40-41 and travel to Milwaukee for a day game tomorrow.
Who was the Orioles MBP for July 2, 2017?
This poll is closed
Kevin Gasuman (7.0 IP, 9K, 0 R, 2 H, 2 BB)
Caleb Joseph (3-4, 2R)
Manny Machado (1-4, HR, 3 RBI)