ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Orioles manager Buck Showalter was more concerned about the lack of offense in today’s 8-0 loss to the Rays than anything that happened to rookie starter Kevin Gausman.
The Orioles have scored once in the first two games of the series. The last 15 batters were retired today.
Gausman was charged with seven runs in 4 1/3 innings, the last three on Luke Scott’s bases-loaded triple off Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland.
“I think he was pretty good, all things considered,” Showalter said. “You score one run in 18 innings, things like that, that’s more of the emphasis where I’m at. He had a good fastball, and the mistakes he made were probably with his breaking ball, off-speed pitches. I liked a lot of things about him today. I did.
“I just didn’t really look at his outing like a struggle outing. I’m looking more at the one run in 18 innings. It’s a real testament to their pitching. I’m not going to spend a lot of time personally dwelling on Gaus. He’s going to give us a lot of chances to win. Just a pitch away. Had a couple balls that found some holes. He’ll learn from it. He’s a tough kid and he’ll get great support. He’s going to pitch some good games for us.”
In other words, don’t expect the Orioles to option Gausman to the minors after his fourth major league start.
“He made some really good pitches and had a couple balls fall in against him,” Showalter said. “Maybe I’m being too positive in some people’s minds, but I’m OK with him today. Just not much margin for error when you know you’re not scoring runs. But I think he’s got a chance to be a really good pitcher. We’ve just got to continue to help him tweak a few things, and he’ll get it done.”
Pitching coach Rick Adair was pleased with Gausman’s fastball command, “and he could throw his secondary stuff over real good. But he got beat three or four times on secondary stuff that was left up in the zone.
“It’s very easy to say, should he use the fastball more, should start guys down to begin with. He was good in a lot of at-bats and he had some at-bats where he just made mistakes.”
“It felt good,” Gausman said. “I was throwing some real good circle changeups, mixing in my circle change and split-finger. That’s something that was working for me all day. I got the majority of my strikeouts on my circle changeup. That felt good, and so did my fastball. Obviously, my command wasn’t what it has been, but that’s something that I’m trying to get back to.”
Gausman has allowed 19 runs and 28 hits in 19 1/3 innings, with six walks and 15 strikeouts.
“Obviously, this hasn’t gone the way that I would’ve hoped,” he said. “Obviously, I wanted to come up here and hit the ground running, win my first four starts. But it hasn’t been like that, so I just try to battle every day and get back to what I’ve been doing.
“When I pitched against the Tigers, I got a lot of groundball outs. That was the most effective I was, and tonight I didn’t really get too many. That shows me I was up in the zone, even just a tad. These guys are so good. (Ben) Zobrist had my number today. First pitch, he hit the fastball away for a hit. Next at-bat, I threw him a fastball in and he pulled it. These guys are pretty good. There’s definitely a learning curve there and I’m just trying to learn every time.”
Gausman said the toughest part right now is the frustration.
“I feel like I’m throwing good pitches and sometimes I get the outcome that I hoped and sometimes I don’t,” he said. “A little frustrating, but I feel good. Mentally and physically I feel good, and I feel like I have the stuff to be here. I just haven’t produced.”
The offense remains stuck in neutral.
“It’s not one of those things where you just say, it’s just one of those things that teams go through. No, you don’t do that,” Showalter said. “Obviously, they have very good pitching and that’s why they’ve been so successful for a good period of time now. We’ll see another good one (Matt Moore) tomorrow. That’s why they call it the big leagues.
“We didn’t swing the bats particularly well in Houston, but tomorrow’s an opportunity to start. It’s going to be tough with Moore, but that’s the way it is. You’ve got to beat the good ones, too.”
The Orioles wasted a prime opportunity against Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson in the fifth after back-to-back singles by Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy with no outs.
“We’d like to have pushed something across there,” Showalter said. “That was an opportunity. He’s a good pitcher. He’s one of those guys that you know what he’s going to do. We see him enough and they see us enough that there’s not many secrets. And they continue to do it. Changeup’s a big pitch for him and it tells you how good it is when guys know the sequences and whatever and still have some trouble with it.”