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Kevin Gausman dominates as Orioles shut out Rangers for 4-0 win

Kevin Gausman pitched the best game of his MLB career against the Rangers on Saturday night, leading the Orioles to a 4-0 victory over the Rangers.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Texas Rangers Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Gausman came within a blundered Bermuda Triangle popup of getting a complete game shutout on Saturday night against the Rangers. He was masterful. It was something to behold. I’m sorry if you missed it. The Orioles closed it out after Gausman exited the game and won, 4-0.

Where has this Gausman been all year? Where has it been all of his career? There’s little doubt that this was the best outing of his career. At 8.2 innings, it was certainly the longest. He nearly pulled off the first CGSO for an Orioles pitcher since Miguel Gonzalez had one in September of 2014.

This was not a matter of luck for Gausman. He was dominant. He struck out eight Rangers in the game and held them to seven hits, none of which went for extra bases. The result was that Texas only had four at-bats in the entire game where they batted with a runner in scoring position. They had no chance against him in this game.

You’ll be forgiven for getting a little excited that maybe Gausman could be turning a corner. That’s three straight quality starts for Gausman, with this third one coming when he was facing the Rangers for the second time in a couple of weeks. They had the opportunity to make an adjustment to his arsenal and they were left befuddled by him. It’s the kind of thing that might make Homer Simpson gargle his own drool.

The Orioles needed Gausman to be good. Their offense wasn’t. They got to Rangers starter Austin Bibens-Dirkx for a pair of runs in both the second and third innings and then didn’t have much going on after that. They didn’t get a hit after the fourth inning! Gausman was good enough that it didn’t matter.

In true Orioles fashion, they first got on the board with home runs. Trey Mancini led off the second inning by teeing off on Bibens-Dirkx for a titanic 459-foot homer to center field. That’s the 17th home run of the season for Mancini, which works out to about a home run for every 18 at-bats. Safe to say there’s been a lot disappointing about this season. Mancini has remained a bright spot.

They struck again in the third inning, helping their case with... walks? Yes, it’s allowed! After a Jonathan Schoop double with one out, the 100th of his career, both Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo drew walks to load the bases for Mancini. The O’s left fielder hit a ground ball that was close to a double play ball.

Mancini got down the line fast enough to avoid the double play, turning it instead into an RBI groundout. Seth Smith drove in Davis with a single to plate the fourth Orioles run - way more than they needed on the night, as it turned out.

From there until the ninth inning, there wasn’t a whole lot of action in the game. As you might expect for a game where the pitcher cruised into the ninth, he just didn’t give up many baserunners.

The best Rangers chance before the ninth inning probably came in the first inning. In fact, leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo walked before Elvis Andrus reached on an infield single. You might have been more tempted to think that this was going to be yet another struggle start for Gausman. He instead induced a double play to defuse the worst of the threat, then retired Future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre to escape any jam.

That was really the last jam he faced. There weren’t very many innings where the Rangers even came close. Texas almost got a run in the third inning. The powerful Joey Gallo crushed a pitch deep to center field. American hero Adam Jones made like the World Baseball Classic, cruising back to the fence, jumping up, and putting a sure home run into his glove.

This Jones play was fantastic. As he impacted the wall, his glove actually went over the top of the fence. Jones still managed to hold on to the ball even as it snowconed in his glove. He landed with a Spider-Man-esque flourish - well deserved.

In the fourth, Beltre led off the inning with a base hit, the 2,999th of his career. This was much to the delight of the Rangers faithful. MASN’s broadcast said that 8,000 people bought tickets between the end of Friday’s game and the start of Saturday’s. They wanted to get a chance to see Beltre’s history. They did, indeed, have a chance. More on that later.

Right after giving up the Beltre single, Gausman got another ground ball, which turned into one of those eye-popping Machado-to-Schoop-to-whoever’s at first base (Davis, in this case) double plays. They’re almost not even a surprise any more, but they’re still amazing.

This was one of three double plays that the O’s turned in the game. The last of them came in the ninth inning. As the sold out Arlington crowd stood their feet, with their phones out trying to record history, Beltre batted following a leadoff walk. Once again, Machado speared a ground ball to start a double play. He’s pretty good. Have you heard?

With that, Gausman was just a batter away from his complete game shutout. He walked Mike Napoli, the second walk he issued in that inning. Still, manager Buck Showalter pushed him, giving him the chance for the complete game. And if either Manny Machado or Ruben Tejada had caught the Rougned Odor pop-up that turned into a single, he should have had it. Somebody should have caught that ball. Alas.

There’s silver lining here, if you want to see the Orioles trade relievers. Gausman’s failure to get a complete game meant that closer Zach Britton could be summoned from the bullpen for a chance to show off for the scouts. There seems to be some concern about whether he can pitch back-to-back days. Now that he’s pitched on Saturday, he can pitch on Sunday, too, and maybe alleviate that concern.

Or will it? Britton only threw three pitches tonight before retiring Carlos Gomez on a groundout. Maybe it doesn’t count to those health-concerned teams if he only throws three pitches. I guess we’ll find out.

The Orioles won a game where they went just 1-11 with runners in scoring position and left a total of ten men on base. You can get away with a whole heck of a lot when your starting pitcher shuts out the other team for 8.2 innings. Let’s hope this isn’t the last time we see something like this from Gausman.

They’ll be back in action on Sunday afternoon, looking to take this road series against the Rangers. Wade Miley and Martin Perez are the scheduled starters for the 3:05 game.


Comrades, who was Most Birdland Player for 29 July 2017?

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  • 88%
    Kevin Gausman
    (264 votes)
  • 12%
    You wish to be sentenced to Siberian exile
    (36 votes)
300 votes total Vote Now