After last night’s game, Buck Showalter showed some frustration when talking about how the various phases of the game haven’t lined up for the Orioles this season. When they hit, they don’t pitch. When the pitch, they don’t hit. Tonight it was the latter, as Kevin Gausman’s nine scoreless innings were wasted because the offense couldn’t score any runs and the O’s lost 2-0 to the Oakland Athletics in twelve innings. The team continues finding new ways to lose and falls to 8-25. They have lost five in a row and eleven straight on the road.
The game was lost in the twelfth inning when Pedro Araujo allowed a one out single and then fell behind in the count 3-1 to slugger Khris Davis. The next pitch was deposited into seats. Chris Hatcher got one out in this game, but it was appropriately timed and he picked up the win to move to 3-0. Araujo fell to 1-3.
The Orioles entered the game last in the American League in batting average and runs scored. They looked like it. They have done a lot of striking out this season, but took it to another level tonight. O’s batters struck out an incredible twenty times and it was the nineteenth time this season they’ve struck out at least ten times. They were within one of their franchise strike out record. It would probably be a good bet that they’ll break that at some point in 2018.
The offensive struggles were especially disheartening because Gausman was simply masterful. Watching his performance made sitting alone watching a team with a .250 winning percentage on Cinco de Mayo actually enjoyable. He mixed his pitches well, changed speeds effectively, painted corners, and had Oakland batters off balance all night. Four runners reached base (two walks, two hits) and not one of them made it into scoring position. His 113 pitches were a season high, but he got stronger as the game went on. His fastest pitch of the evening, a 98 MPH fastball, came in the ninth inning. His nine scoreless innings lowered his ERA to 3.30.
Unfortunately for the Orioles, Gausman’s counterpart was almost as good. Trevor Cahill threw back the clock to his first stint in green and yellow, throwing six scoreless innings and setting a career high with twelve strikeouts. In a rare occurrence, Baltimore’s starting pitcher was more pitch efficient than the opponent’s; Cahill left the game after six innings due to an elevated pitch count.
Despite Cahill recording 12 of his 18 outs by strikeout, the O’s knocked on the door a few times. Jace Peterson got himself into scoring position by singling and stealing second base in the third, but Adam Jones struck out to end the inning. Anthony Santander doubled in the fifth, but Peterson and Trey Mancini struck out.
The scoring opportunities continued after Cahill left the game. Baltimore got runners into scoring position in the seventh and eighth innings against Yusmeiro Petit but couldn’t get the big hit. Meanwhile, Gausman was mowing down Oakland batters through the ninth inning.
A potential injury scare came with one out in the tenth when a Santiago Casilla fastball ran in to Adam Jones and hit him in the wrist. Jones, in a rare exhibition of pain, doubled over as trainer Brian Ebel and Buck Showalter rushed out. My immediate fear was a broken finger, but it was a near miss and Jones stayed in the game. The baserunner was wasted as Manny Machado and Chris Davis were retired.
Mychal Givens took over for Gausman in extra innings and the dominance over A’s hitters continued. He struck out five batters in two innings of work and has not been scored upon in five of his last six outings. After some struggles to begin the season, he appears to be back on track.
The O’s had an opportunity to push a run across in the 11th inning when Mark Trumbo led off with a single. Had a left-handed pitcher not have been on the mound for Oakland, Buck Showalter probably would have pinch-run Craig Gentry and attempted a steal to get the go-ahead run into scoring position. He opted to pinch-hit Danny Valencia for Pedro Alvarez against the southpaw and he struck out. The next two batters met the same fate and the lead-off single was wasted. Gentry got his opportunity in the twelfth, when he came on after a Trey Mancini walk. He was thrown out trying to steal.
In the home half of the twelfth inning, a Rule 5 player was counted upon in a big situation. Sound familiar? Jim Palmer was quite candid after the game, simply saying that Pedro Araujo isn’t a major league pitcher at this point. As good as his stuff is, it’s tough to disagree with him. As long as he’s in the bullpen, Showalter has no choice but to use him in situations like this.
The Orioles will try to salvage one game on their west coast trip tomorrow when Alex Cobb squares off against Andrew Triggs. I think the O’s will be happy to get out of California after tomorrow’s game.