INT. THE TORONTO BLUE JAYS CLUBHOUSE - DAY
WE PAN across the room as players are getting ready for a game, settling eventually on KEVIN GAUSMAN (31) sitting in front of his locker. He is listening to music on headphones, not audible to audience, when he is approached by a COACH.
CUT TO: GAUSMAN’S POV, looking up at the COACH.
There is a break in the music as COACH approaches. GAUSMAN hears:
Hey, Gausy, you going to pitch like you’re (music swells, COACH is briefly inaudible to GAUSMAN as he mouths “getting revenge”) on the Orioles today?
CUT TO: General clubhouse view.
(lifts headphones, nodding) Sure thing, Coach.
Is that what happened before today’s Orioles-Blue Jays game, that turned into a battering by the Orioles hitters of Gausman? No, probably not, but it’s funny to think it did. Gausman looked more like the frustrating Orioles version of himself than the guy who just collected a $110 million free agent contract this past winter. The Orioles, who started this series getting beat down by the Jays, 11-1, bookended the series by dropping double digit runs themselves on the way to a 10-2 victory over Toronto.
Gausman might have felt like he was pitching for the Orioles again with the kind of luck he had starting from the very first inning. Cedric Mullins led off the game by singling to right field. He stole second as Austin Hays struck out; the play was close but did not generate a challenge. Ryan Mountcastle followed with a single. Mullins briefly considered going home on the play, then a throw behind him was barely too late.
This brought up Adley Rutschman, serving as the designated hitter. Rutschman grounded into what could have easily been a double play ball, except he hoofed it down the line as much as any catcher is able and beat the throw from second, again just barely. After finally breaking his RBI drought last night, he got another here, as his speed got him an RBI fielder’s choice. The Orioles had a 1-0 lead on these three close plays strung together and Gausman must have been cursing his luck.
Orioles fans are well acquainted with the times that Gausman followed up some bad luck he couldn’t control with some bad pitching that he could have controlled. That vintage of Gausman arrived in the third inning and the Orioles took advantage. Mullins led off the inning by serving another soft single into the outfield. You could still call that bad luck, and the same for a hard Hays shot ricocheting off the glove of Jays third baseman Santiago Espinal, allowing Mullins to get to third base and Hays to second on the play. Maybe that situation wasn’t Gausman’s fault.
Starting with Hays’s at-bat, Gausman was not fooling any Orioles, though. Five of the next six batters put the ball in play with an exit velocity of 95 miles per hour or greater, including three in triple digits. Mountcastle drove in the two runners ahead of him with a single, and then the O’s started dropping doubles. Rutschman doubled, leading to Mountcastle scoring on a Rougned Odor sacrifice fly, followed by Tyler Nevin and Ryan McKenna doubling back-to-back.
This last one, not even being able to get out McKenna, was the final straw for the Jays, who yanked Gausman from the game after just 2.1 innings pitched. The inherited runner came in to score, so seven runs were charged to Gausman - only five earned, due to Espinal being charged an error allowing runners to move up. The O’s smoked him for seven hits before he departed. This was more than enough than they would need to cruise to victory.
Let’s not make the whole story about how poorly Gausman did or didn’t pitch, because the other big reason why the Orioles were able to log an easy victory had nothing to do with him at all. The present-day O’s starting pitcher, Tyler Wells, had a lot of say in the game’s outcome as well. I keep thinking that the Wells experiment will fall apart any start now but he’s now 13 starts into the season and shows no signs of slowing down.
Facing more or less the same Jays who had scored 23 runs over the first three games of this series, Wells just... dominated. It wasn’t the kind of domination where you can cut together a 45-second long montage of strikeout pitches; Wells only struck out three batters. You can’t call it the kind of dominant where it was all soft contact. Wells faced 24 batters and allowed hard contact (the 95mph or higher threshold) to 11 of them. However, they kept finding the gloves of Orioles fielders.
Six innings later, for all the loud outs, the Jays had only one run to show for it. That scored when Teoscar Hernández connected into the second deck in the fourth inning, a solo shot that broke up a shutout but did little else. The Orioles led 7-1 at this point. The Jays would not score again until they scraped a run across in the eighth inning, and by then, the Orioles had gotten up to double digits.
Following Wells, reliever Nick Vespi pitched a scoreless inning in the seventh, then came out for the eighth. Vespi struck out Espinal for the first out, then gave up a double and was pulled. Fellow reliever Austin Voth allowed this inherited runner to score later on, bringing an end to Vespi’s 0.00 MLB ERA after seven innings. A 1.29 ERA will still do fine. Voth allowed no more runs in the eighth and Rico Garcia added a scoreless ninth to finish the series.
Every Oriole in the starting lineup had at least one hit except for Robinson Chirinos. Four of them had multi-hit games, led by Mullins’s three-hit outing. This group included McKenna, whose presence in the lineup irritated some (including me) rather than Kyle Stowers getting to play. It worked out. Hays put the Orioles up into double digits with an eighth inning solo homer, his ninth dinger of the season.
The Orioles head back to Baltimore having split the four games in Canada and the eight games on this road trip. They are .500 to date in the month of June, having scored 79 runs in 14 games while allowing 76. The rotation, outside of Wells, still feels like a wreck, and they’re still putting together some great games. Can they sustain any momentum at home, where they are also .500 so far this season, in a three-game series against a Rays team that’s wrecked them for three years? I guess we’ll find out.
The Orioles-Rays series will get under way on Friday evening at 6:05. Note the earlier than usual start time, meant to accommodate the post-game Flo Rida concert. Dean Kremer and Shane Baz are scheduled to start the series opener.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for June 16, 2022?
This poll is closed
Tyler Wells (6 IP, 1 ER, lowered season ERA to 3.62)
Cedric Mullins (three hits, two runs scored)
Adley Rutschman (double, walk, RBI for second straight game)
Ryan McKenna (two hits to muffle haters like me)