The confidence that Orioles manager Buck Showalter demonstrated in pitcher Kevin Gausman didn't waver after two outings that left the rookie's ERA at 11.00. And today, Gausman repaid Showalter in a sense by holding the Tigers to one run over six innings in the Orioles' 4-2 victory at Camden Yards.
"I thought he had a much better angle today," Showalter said. "Rick and he made a couple adjustments getting back to what he was doing in the spring, which is the good thing about having him. You could tell right away he had a better angle, some depth to his fastball. It's a pretty tough road to start out with, starting out in Toronto and you head to Washington, the first time he's had some people behind him in the ballpark. Like I said before, the perfect situation doesn't always match up. I'm real proud of him. I know it meant a lot to him.
"He's talented. That's the thing. As much as you talk about a lot of other factors that affect guys, he's talented. He's got a good hand, which allows him to do some things with the baseball. I've got a lot of confidence in him.
"We'll pitch him again, maybe give him an extra day next time out with the off-day, but I tell you, this club, our club, I don't want to say needs it, but the off-day comes well. These last two or three days, first time it's turned sticky and you're playing these 4 o'clock, 1 o'clock games. I mean, you all probably feel it a little bit, but imagine playing.
"Gausman's good. That's him. He's got a good arm and a talented hand."
Gausman's pitch count stood at 42 after two innings, but he made it through the sixth for the first time in his three major league starts.
"I look at the positive side that his stuff was so good that they fouled a lot of balls off," Showalter said. "You go back through how many fouls balls there that they couldn't quite square him up. You can tell by body language of the other team. I say a lot of times, they'll tell us how he's doing. You can tell by the body language. I watch them talk between innings and at-bats when a guy comes back, like everybody does. So far, so good.
"It was good to see him rebound. Pretty calm guy. If you've ever pitched in Baton Rouge against Ole Miss on a Friday night ..."
The bench came through in the clutch. Danny Valencia's RBI single tied the game in the seventh and Alexi Casilla's RBI double provided a big insurance run in the eighth.
"Danny's wasn't pretty, but he's hit a couple balls on the button that they caught, too. That was a key hit," Showalter said.
Chris Davis led off the three-run seventh with his 20th home run, ending Rick Porcello's shutout bid.
"I thought Chris Davis was the first guy to throw out the get-back-in-it mode," Showalter said. "Porcello was tough. My gosh. He had everything going for him. You could see it early on. He had really good arm speed on all three of his pitches. That thing was coming out of the same window.
"I thought Brian Matusz not imploding there and holding them to one run, he got a big double play there. Of course, not many third basemen have the arm strength to make that play across the diamond. And I can't tell you how hard a pick that is at first base, the ball running down the line."
Davis remains on a roll, already accumulating 20 home runs on June 2.
"We're not talking about it," Showalter quipped. "No, he's in a good place in his life and hopefully we can help him stay there."
The Orioles took two of three from one of the best teams in baseball.
"Sometimes, the want-to you have, your body doesn't cooperate," Showalter said. "This was one of those days where, we really needed to hold them to as few runs as we could. Sometimes, your body doesn't cooperate with the other part and that's one of the challenges of this game. That's why I'm real proud of them, especially the pitchers."
Jim Johnson secured the Orioles' series win with his 18th save, surviving a leadoff single by Miguel Cabrera in the ninth on a bouncer up the middle.
"Jimmy's mad about not sticking his bare hand up there and taking the chopper up the middle," Showalter said. "We did a good job with Cabrera today, keeping him in the ballpark. Jimmy was solid again. He's been real strong mentally. Things bother him from a team standpoint. He knows how hard this job is and how much we depend on him for it all to work."