CLEARWATER, Fla. - Kevin Gausman made it through today’s start without suffering any cuts. He simply tore through the Phillies lineup for three innings.
Gausman retired all nine batters with five strikeouts. His fastball was clocked at 94-97 mph on the stadium radar gun, peaking twice to the final batter he faced, J.P. Crawford, who struck out.
Left-hander Josh Edgin replaced Gausman in the fourth inning with the Orioles leading 1-0.
Gausman threw 39 pitches, 25 for strikes according to the Phillies press box, 26 according to me.
One of the strikeouts from Gausman came on a 96 mph fastball to leadoff hitter César Hernández in the first inning. Another one came on an 85 mph splitter in the dirt in the second inning that Nick Williams couldn’t handle.
No one made solid contact against Gausman. Carlos Santana led off the second inning with a fly ball to center fielder Cedric Mullins - the only ball to leave the infield. Odúbel Herrera and Maikel Franco grounded to third baseman Tim Beckham and Jorge Alfaro grounded to short, where Ruben Tejada and Luis Sardiñas have been alternating.
Sardiñas handled the Alfaro grounder.
It was such a stark contrast to Monday’s debut against the Tigers, when Gausman was charged with five runs and six hits in 1 1/3 innings and left the game following a collision with the Tigers’ Jeimer Candelario while backing up home plate on a run-scoring single.
Gausman sustained a cut above his left eyelid and underwent a series of concussion tests that he passed. The soreness in his lower back subsided and he made his scheduled start today.
Mullins walked with one out in the second and scored on Chance Sisco’s double to left off Phillies starter Thomas Eshelman, the young catcher again showing off his opposite-field power. Mullins was motoring. Eshelman was done after 1 1/3 innings.
Gausman knows the feeling, but not today.
Pedro Álvarez singled in the first inning and was stranded.
Update: The Orioles haven’t allowed a hit in five innings. Edgin retired the side in order in the fourth and Alec Asher escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth after two walks and a hit batter.
On whether he’s happy with outing: “Absolutely. I think anytime you take a step in the right direction is good, especially in spring training. Just to even get up and down three times, that’s a good step in the right direction.”
On whether he threw everything: “Yeah, I was throwing everything. Had a real good feel for my slider today and I got some strikeouts on it. More than anything for me, it starts with fastball command. Even the counts that I got behind, I was able to get back into and get ground balls. For me, when I’m going good, I get a lot of ground balls and weak contact. I try to assess my starts on that and today was pretty good.”
On wanting to pitch again after last outing: “Absolutely. I wanted to be on my regular schedule today. There’s no reason why I couldn’t be. It felt great. You’re always trying to take that next step in spring training specifically. It’s always good to get out there and get through three innings.”
On what he looks for in March: “I do a lot of work in the offseason to make sure my line toward home was way more consistent. That was one thing from day one that Roger (McDowell) was like, ‘Hey, you’ve really been working on it,’ and it shows. I’m landing on the same spot every time.
“More than anything, I just feel really good with my delivery. Anytime you feel good with your delivery and the ball is coming out and you feel healthy, especially in spring training, that’s always good.”
Update II: Anthony Santander hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning off left-hander Fernando Abad to give the Orioles a 3-0 lead.
Update III: Andrew Susac walked with the bases loaded in the eighth to give the Orioles a 4-0 lead.
Update IV: Former Oriole Ryan Flaherty broke up the no-hitter with a one-out single off Jimmy Yacabonis in the eighth and the Phillies scored twice to reduce the lead to 4-2.
Update V: Lucas Long retired the side on three groundouts in the ninth for the save and the Orioles beat the Phillies 4-2.