The starting pitching isn’t really the issue.
Andrew Cashner’s quality start last night in Toronto was the Orioles’ fourth straight on the current road trip and the eighth in the last nine games. But they were held to one run in a 5-1 loss, the latest adjustments to the lineup failing to create a spark.
Kevin Gausman has fallen short of the quality line in his last two attempts since shutting out the White Sox in 6 1/3 innings on May 22. He allowed seven runs in 2 2/3 innings against the Rays at Tropicana Field and five earned runs (six total) in 5 1/3 innings against the Yankees.
The strikeouts are plentiful, with 10 against the White Sox and nine against the Yankees, but he’s surrendered 43 hits over 26 1/3 innings in his last five starts. Gausman is averaging a career-high 10.4 hits per nine innings - despite holding the Athletics to two over nine innings on May 5 - but also a career-low 2.2 walks.
Gausman faced the Blue Jays on April 11 at Camden Yards and posted the first of his six quality starts by allowing three runs over six innings in a 5-3 win. He’s 6-3 with a 3.22 ERA and 1.373 WHIP in 19 career games (14 starts) against Toronto and 3-3 with a 3.80 ERA and 1.394 WHIP in 11 games (eight starts) at Rogers Centre.
Kevin Piillar has been a pain. He’s 12-for-28 (.429) lifetime against Gausman, though the only extra-base hit is a double. Former Oriole Steve Pearce is 5-for-12. Curtis Granderson is 3-for-7 with two home runs.
Justin Smoak is only 2-for-13, but he has a double and home run.
Right-handers are hitting .302 against Gausman this year, compared to the .262 average posted by left-handers. He’s 2-2 with a 2.91 ERA and 1.187 WHIP in seven night games and 1-3 with a 7.99 ERA and 1.817 WHIP in five day games.
Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez is averaging a career-high 5.2 walks per nine innings this season. He walked five Orioles over eight innings on April 10, but also held them to one run and three hits in a 2-1 win.
Sanchez is 6-3 with a 3.97 ERA and 1.479 WHIP in 16 career games (11 starts) against the Orioles. Chris Davis is 8-for-23 (.348) with two doubles, four home runs, 11 walks and eight strikeouts.
Davis was out of the lineup last night against left-hander J.A. Happ, but it seems likely that he’s going to play this afternoon. Left-handers are hitting .304 against Sanchez this season and right-handers are hitting .193. Factor in his career numbers and Davis probably leaves the bench.
However, Davis has become a different hitter, and past successes must be taken with a grain of salt. I’d recommend a shot and chaser. Or gather lots more grains and salt the rim of a margarita glass.
Jonathan Schoop is 9-for-25 (.360) with a home run against Sanchez.
A roster move is coming later this morning with Darren O’Day’s activation from the disabled list. The Orioles could option left-hander Tanner Scott, who worked an inning last night and allowed a run. He struck out two more batters and is worthy of a spot in the bullpen, but there isn’t much flexibility.
The Orioles changed Zach Britton’s schedule after indicating that it wouldn’t happen. He pitched again last night in Toledo to give him back-to-back outings, and he allowed a run in one inning.
Britton will be activated on Monday or join Single-A Frederick for one more appearance, as manager Buck Showalter explained on “O’s Xtra” on MASN.
Shameless plug alert: I’m appearing on “Wall to Wall Baseball” from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. on MASN. An abbreviated show with the game’s early start time.