SARASOTA, Fla. - On the road again.
The Orioles are making their second trip to Dunedin to play the Toronto Blue Jays, who apparently can’t find their way to Sarasota.
Actually, they’ll be here Thursday, but I’m on a roll, so don’t stop me.
Steve Johnson gets today’s start, with manager Buck Showalter deciding to slot him ahead of Jair Jurrjens. Johnson originally was supposed to pitch in relief on Sunday before Showalter made the change.
Jurrjens, Zach Clark, Mike Belfiore and Kevin Gausman are scheduled to pitch after Johnson. The Blue Jays are countering with J.A. Happ, Darren Oliver, Brad Lincoln, Steve Delabar, Esmil Rogers, Jeremy Jeffress and Neil Wagner.
Oliver asked to be used early in the game so he can seated for dinner by 4 p.m.
Gausman’s most recent outing came Thursday against the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers, when he allowed one run and three hits, with two strikeouts, in two innings.
“I felt good,” he said. “I kind of caught myself being like, ‘Holy cow, I’m pitching against Joe Mauer.’ But it was kind of cool. I threw some sliders for the first time. I had a couple that were 86. That’s pretty good. Before that, they were about 80-81.”
I asked Gausman what he considers the ideal difference in velocity between his pitches.
“I would say, I’d like when my change-up is more about 82-83,” he replied. “It’s been a little harder this year. I think it’s a good gap when you have about 10 mph between your fastball and change-up, or more. And if you have seven or eight between your slider.
“I want to throw kind of a harder slider. That’s something I’m kind of working on right now.”
A few days ago, I passed along how Gausman has improved his time to the plate, which Showalter considers extremely important if a pitcher is going to have success in the majors. Gausman apparently went from a 1.5-1.7 to a 1.2-1.28.
“It just happened because I made some tweaks to my delivery,” he explained. “Kind of being more sound. Chris Correnti helped me with that. I did my biomechanical analysis after I signed and found out my knee, when I was in my leg kick, was facing toward second base. That’s not very good. So I kind of started changing that and I think it just naturally made me a little quicker to the plate.”
And there’s your inside baseball nugget for breakfast. Healthier than a sausage link.