The baserunners kept piling up again tonight for Kevin Gausman. Eight among the first 16 batters, nine among 18, 11 among 22.
The losses also are stacked pretty high for a team that used to reside in first place in its division.
Gausman failed to make it through the sixth inning, the mound resembling a tight rope, and the Orioles never led while beginning their latest homestand with an 11-2 loss to the Cardinals before an announced crowd of 26,341 at Camden Yards.
Trey Mancini hit a solo home run with two outs in the ninth to complete the scoring.
The Orioles have lost eight of their last nine games and 10 of 13. They’re two below .500 for the first time since being 79-81 on Oct. 3, 2015.
The rotation has one quality start in the last 11 games. Gausman exited tonight with the Orioles trailing 4-1 after José Martínez’s two-out double in the sixth. Gabriel Ynoa’s first pitch was lined into center field by Paul DeJong to score Martínez and tag Gausman with another run.
Matt Carpenter followed with a two-run homer and Dexter Fowler delivered a solo shot to increase the lead to 8-1 in the sixth. Ynoa struck out the first two batters in the seventh, committed a fielding error and served up Tommy Pham’s two-run shot.
Ynoa was recalled earlier today from Triple-A Norfolk. Manager Buck Showalter is begging for someone to seize an opportunity.
Surrendering three home runs in 1 1/3 innings is doing something entirely different to an opportunity.
Jedd Gyorko homered on Vidal Nuño’s first pitch in the ninth inning. Nuño also arrived today from Norfolk. And the Orioles took another wrong turn.
DeJong, the No. 9 hitter in the Cardinals’ lineup, hit a two-run homer off Gausman two outs in the fourth. He had one home run and four RBIs before tonight.
The Cardinals tried to assist Gausman by grounding into a double play to end the first, running into an out leading off the fourth and having a runner doubled off second base to close the fifth. He let the leadoff hitter reach in four of six innings.
Gausman allowed nine hits, walked three batters and struck out seven. He threw 116 pitches, 69 for strikes.
The third inning began with Gausman loading the bases with no outs on three consecutive singles. He walked Fowler with the count full to break a scoreless tie and Stephen Piscotty followed with a sacrifice fly to the warning track in right center field.
Both runners advanced, but Gausman limited the damage by getting a called third strike and fly ball.
The Orioles reduced the lead to 2-1 against Carlos Martínez in the bottom of the third inning on Hyun Soo Kim’s leadoff single, Seth Smith’s one-out double and Manny Machado’s sacrifice fly to deep right field.
No shutdown inning for Martínez, and none for Gausman in the top of the fourth.
Tommy Pham singled after Aledmys Díaz was thrown out 7-6-4 trying to stretch his single into a double. José Martínez struck out, but DeJong homered to left field.
Gausman has registered a 6.60 ERA in 75 innings.
The Orioles have scored three runs or fewer in 33 games this season and are 8-25. They’ve allowed 10 or more in four of their last seven games. They share last place with the Blue Jays, who were losing big tonight against the White Sox.
Showalter on Gausman: “Ok. Every mistake gets kind of magnified by the ... When they have a real good pitcher on the mound, we’re not scoring many runs. But that’s usually enough to keep us engaged in the game, but we didn’t do much. Ynoa came in and gave up his run right away. Very close, hoping to get him through that sixth inning. That would have been good for him.
“A lot of foul balls. He had like 23-24, somewhere in there, and it ran up his pitch count. A lot of good-looking pitches from the bench, as far as close to balls and strikes. They’re seeing it pretty good there, spitting on them barely off the plate. I’m sure you all saw it, too.”
Showalter on Carlos Martínez: “Same thing he’s been doing. He’s top in ERA every year. He’s got plus-fastball. He goes to different levels when he needs to. Obviously, a good slider and changeup if he needs it. He didn’t need it as much tonight with all the right-handed hitters that we have to play. But he’s a good pitcher. He’s tough. And the guy pitching Sunday (Lance Lynn) has a better ERA than he does, so we’ll have another challenge the next two days.”
Showalter on whether he can do something like meet with players to end slump: “Well, that would be assuming we haven’t already done that. When we do stuff like that, we’re certainly not going to invite everybody, so to speak. Those things have been done by a lot of different people, including the players. We’ll keep looking for ways to get better.”
Showalter on José Martínez 10-pitch at-bat to end Gausman’s night: “Well, that was probably going to be his last hitter. There was some debate in my mind about letting him go out in the sixth and he came out and I thought it would be good for him and his confidence. He got two quick outs and that long at-bat got him. They had a lot of long at-bats. It kind of ran up his pitch count as opposed to their guy. He was just the opposite. What, did we strike out 10 or 11 of their guys tonight? But there was a lot of damage in between.
Showalter on how Gausman’s mistakes are magnified: “One of the things, when you’re pitching well and do get behind the count, maybe lead off a guy with a breaking ball, ambush him with a fastball and you miss, his ability to get a fastball strike. He’s having trouble getting the count back in his favor. They’re able to box out some pitches on him unless he can get a breaking ball over behind in the count. The one quality that pitchers when they’re pitching well, they can locate a fastball down and away to get back in the count. It’s been a little bit of a challenge for him.”
Showalter on Ynoa: “He elevated a changeup, fastball was up. Lot of center-cut fastballs. That’s been a challenge he’s had in Norfolk and it carried over for us. He had one good outing for us. They had a predominantly right-handed lineup. We were hoping he could duplicate that, but he didn’t.”
Gausman on too many baserunners remaining an issue: “Yeah. I didn’t get many first guy of the inning out. Anytime you get more guys on, yeah, just not very good in that aspect definitely.”
Gausman on whether he gets in trouble and thinks, ‘Here we go again?’: “No. My thought process is always bases loaded nobody out, get a ground ball or double play, just minimize. And, you know, did somewhat of a good job to kind of get out of that third inning, two runs, but also threw way too good of a slider that he hit to deep center to bring a guy in. So, obviously I’m trying to get a ground ball right there.”
Gausman on sixth inning: “I think that as a starter our job is to go at least six innings. Whether we give up 10 runs or two runs, it’s to get through six. Most times when you get through six with less than two runs, you’re going to go back out there for the seventh. We’re just killing our bullpen right now as starters, so that was kind of my goal, to get through that sixth. He really battled. I thought I struck him out on a pitch and of course it hits the dirt. Obviously things aren’t going our way right now, so just try to battle and minimize.”
Gausman on whether he takes anything positive out of his starts: “Yeah, I feel like all my misses, especially today, were really close. I felt like I threw a lot of good pitches today, but I ended up walking some guys and got into too many hitters counts. They did a really good job of battling and putting the ball in play. It seemed like everywhere they hit it, they hit it where our guys weren’t. You get a ground ball in a double-play situation and it’s just out of the reach of guys. It seems like that’s kind of how it’s going for us right now.
“This will pass, especially with the starters. It’s going to turn around at some point. I wanted to be the one to kind of right the ship today and it just didn’t work out that way. “
Kim on mood of club: “It’s been tough, but Jonesy (Adam Jones) has been our leader. He’s been leading us well, and I know that we’re going to be able to turn this around.”