Kevin Gausman has been so bad at times this year many O’s fans have contemplated if he should be sent to the minors. Tampa Bay starter Blake Snell had an ERA under 5.00 to start the game - by .02 points.
So, of course, we had a pitchers’ duel for the first seven innings. Baseball, it’s crazy.
Snell, with one exception, kept the O’s in check for the first seven innings with a plethora of garden-variety outs. Only a 411-foot home run to Adam Jones would mar his first 7 innings, but as the old joke says, “Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” That one run would prove the difference in the game as Tampa Bay never scored and the O’s cruised to a 5-0 win behind Gausman’s workmanlike start.
The Orioles started in a painfully familiar way, with Adam Jones leading off with a double, advancing to third base on a wild pitch, and then not scoring. Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop struck out, and Mark Trumbo flied out. So much for that.
Gausman was getting outs, but when he wasn’t racking up one of his eight strikeouts, he required some serious defensive help from his infield. Thankfully for him, that include Machado and Schoop. Because they did this in the bottom of the first:
Manny Magic to end the 1st! #Birdland pic.twitter.com/uTSBkimb1Z— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) July 24, 2017
Machado was barely in fair territory when he backhanded the ball cleanly, and was two steps in foul territory when he threw the ball. He fired a strike to Jon Schoop at 2B, who received the throw on one leg as he sprinted to the bag, received the throw while pushing off the base and jumping to help protect himself from the sliding Steve Souza Jr., and then exchanged it into his throwing hand and made the throw while still in mid-air.
You can read more about the play in Mark Brown’s article is here
Gausman decided to step on the gas in the 2nd inning, striking out the side. The O’s came to bat, Joey Rickard got out, because that’s what he does, and then Adam Jones turned on one. It’s that simple. He launched it into left field stands, 411 feet at 100 mph exit velocity.
And just when you think the O’s can be frustrating at the plate, Tampa Bay gave a master class. Gordon Beckham singled on a simply horrid slider from Gausman, and then Gausman walked Mallex Smith on a 3-2 fastball that missed high by a foot. Gausman then remembered that if he threw the ball hard, most of Tampa Bay would swing and miss, and lo and behold, a good splitter to Adeiny Hechavarria made it one out on the strike out and then strikeout #6 on a “See if you can hit this” FB to Souza Jr. that was dead middle of the plate, just below the letters, that a good hitter should have crushed but Souza Jr was behind on. Two out. Gausman walked Corey Dickerson, he of the 18 home runs, on four pitches, because loading the bases for Evan Longorio seemed like a good idea. So. of course, Gausman goes right after him and gets him on a force at second base on a play that probably should have been challenged and was not. Thanks, Tampa Bay!
From then, it was more of the same. Feeble at-bats by the O’s, mighty swings and misses by Tampa Bay. One scary moment in the top of the 5th as Tampa Bay catcher Wilson Ramos was struck by broken bat on backswing of Ruben Tejada’s bat. He removed his helmet for the training staff and sure enough, he was bleeding from scalp. Wow. Can’t imagine what would have happened without modern helmet technology. Ramos has to leave the game and ended up with six stitches. Ouch!
The bottom of the 5th saw more frustration for Tampa Bay. And this just in, Mallex Smith is annoying. He hit a leadoff triple that missed being a ground rule double by a foot. Hechavarria then grounded out, but to Machado at third base who froze the runner. Souza Jr walked, Corey Dickerson GIDP’d and Gausman got out of the inning unscathed. Leadoff triple doesn’t score. Sounds like something the Orioles would do.
In the bottom of the 6th, Machado does it again, fielding nasty short hop on turf to get Longorio out by a few steps. Are you kidding me? Manny catches a foul then does a somersault after tripping over in-field bullpen. Blew a bubble on his way to the ball, because of course he did.
The 7th was another quiet inning for O’s bats and tonight was by far best outing for Blake Snell this year. Thankfully, Gausman was even better. He ended with 6.0 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 3 BB, and 8 Ks. That’ll work.
Tampa Bay wasn’t done frustrating their fans, for after a lead-off walk to Gordon Beckham, Mallex Smith made one of the worst swings against a Darren O’Day pitch I think I’ve ever seen. He bailed out and was turned to go to the dugout before he’d finished swinging the bat. Hechavarria then flew into a double play, since Beckham was inexcusably already at 2B when Rickard caught it, stumbled upon turning back to first base, and Rickard threw to Trumbo for the DP.
In the 8th, Snell’s luck finally ran out. After a Tejada single and a attempted SAC bunt by Rickard that decided it wanted to stay fair after hitting a rock, Jones singled to center field to load the bases … and Machado came up. Oh, goody. Well, he is hitting .320 in July….
Sergio Romo came in for his first game action for the Rays after being acquired in a trade, and sure enough, Machado hit a ball up the middle for a single, 2 RBI, still no one out. Schoop extended his RBI streak to eight games with a SAC fly to scores Jones, and it was 4-0 and all over but the shouting.
The O’s scored their final run in the 9th on a throwing error by Hechavarria to first base, as Logan Morrison couldn’t pick it cleanly and allowed Welington Castillo to score from third base. Another sweet play by Machado to Trey Mancini doing his best Magic Toe impersonation as Richard Bleier pitched the 9th, and the win was in the books. Thanks for the birthday gift, Orioles!
Who was the Most Birdland Player for July 24, 2017?
This poll is closed
Adam Jones (3-5, RBI, 2R)
Manny Machado (1-4, 2 RBI, highlight reel at 3B)
Kevin Gausman (W, 6.0 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 8 K, 3 BB)