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Sunday afternoon Orioles game thread: at Toronto, 1:37 ET

The Orioles are in the happy position of going for the sweep today, as Kevin Gausman and Dean Kremer take the mound.

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto starter Kevin Gausman, whom I still don’t like seeing in blue.
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Good pitching and timely hitting are working thus far for the orange-colored birds in this three-game series in Toronto. After taking the first two games, Saturday’s in exciting comeback fashion, the Orioles can make it a clean sweep today. To do that, they’ll have to get some key hits off a onetime Orioles starter who left town in the Great Baltimore Fire Sale of 2018 and get a clean outing from one who arrived during that time.

If you think of baseball teams like a genealogical tree, where instead of moms and dads having children you have trades and signings, then Kevin Gausman, who left Baltimore for Atlanta along with Darren O’Day, is the Orioles co-parent of Evan Phillips, JC Encarnacion, Brett Cumberland, and Bruce Zimmermann. (Yeah, I think we want this one back.) On the other side of the starter matchup, Dean Kremer’s Oriole daddy is Manny Machado, who departed Baltimore for LA and left behind him Breyvic Valera, Zach Pop, Rylan Bannon and Kremer. (Pop, by the way, is now a Blue Jay, but he’s on the 15-day IL.)

Good thing Dean Kremer is starting to find “it” this season. He’s had up-and-down moments, especially his April 1 season debut against Boston, a five-run, three-inning affair, or on April 29, when he allowed five runs to Detroit. But he’s trending up: his April WHIP was 1.58 but over three starts in May, he has a 1.13 WHIP to go with a 2.04 ERA. Real or mirage? How he performs against a tough Blue Jays lineup will give us a clue. Vladdy Jr. has hit Kremer well in the past, with 4 HR and 6 RBI in 16 AB’s. Kevin Kiermaier is 1-for-4 against him. However, Bo Bichette, Matt Chapman, Whit Merrifield and George Springer have all faced Kremer 10 or more times and none has an average over .200.

I still remember Gausman when he had short hair and a four-and-a-half ERA. Atlanta couldn’t do a ton with him, nor Cincinnati. But a 17-9 record and 3.00 ERA with San Francisco from 2020-21 turned Gaus’s career around, and that is why he’s on a 5-yr/$110M deal that will make him a Blue Jay through 2026. He has a 3.33 ERA for Toronto in parts of two seasons.

One thing Gaus did differently after leaving the Orioles is throw fewer four-seamers—San Francisco really helped with this—and his pitch mix looks like this now: 52% fastballs, 40% splitters, 7% sliders, < 1% changeups. Gausman’s best pitch, as it was when he was still an Oriole, is the split-fingered fastball, or as he calls it on Twitter, #DaSpwitter. (He used to call it #DaSpwitty. I’m not either is better.) The pitch has a 50% whiff rate. If it’s me out there today, I would sit dead red.

Most of the O’s lineup has seen Gausman 5 times or less, with the exception of Adam Frazier, who has 32 AB’s against and pounded him for a .406 average. James McCann, catching today, is an OK 3-for-12. Cedric Mullins, leading off, is 2-for-5 against Gausman, while Adley, DH’ing, and Mountcastle, hitting cleanup, are both a lovely 3-for-5. Joey Ortiz gets to face Gausman for the first time.

Orioles lineup

1. Cedric Mullins CF
2. Adley Rutschman DH
3. Anthony Santander RF
4. Ryan Mountcastle 1B
5. Adam Frazier 2B
6. Austin Hays LF
7. Gunnar Henderson 3B
8. James McCann C
9. Joey Ortiz SS

Blue Jays lineup

1. George Springer RF
2. Bo Bichette SS
3. Vlad Guerrero Jr. 1B
4. Brandon Belt DH
5. Matt Chapman 3B
6. Whit Merrifield 2B
7. Alejandro Kirk C
8. Nathan Lukes LF
9. Kevin Kiermaier CF