BOWIE, Md. - Showing a mid- to sometimes high-90s fastball and a slider that was much improved over his first start, Kevin Gausman picked up his first professional win, pitching Double-A Bowie to a 5-1 victory over Akron tonight in front of 4,673 chilled fans in the team's home opener.
Gausman threw 92 pitches, 66 for strikes over six innings, allowing just two hits and one run. He didn't walk a batter for the second straight start and fanned five. He is now 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA.
"I felt good, I felt comfortable out there," Gausman said. "I felt like I was on top of the hitters and that is always a good feeling when you're a pitcher. Overall, I thought my stuff was probably the best its been. My first outing, I think I was almost around the zone too much and this time I tried to expand the zone sometimes when I was ahead in the count and I think I did a pretty good job of that."
He took a shutout into the fourth and needed an escape act to keep Akron off the board that inning. The first two hitters reached on errors and moved to second and third on a Gausman wild pitch. But he struck out the next two batters followed by a ground out to escape that jam.
It sounds like Gausman enjoyed the challenge of that inning.
"I actually love when guys are on base. It makes it a lot more interesting, a lot more fun. You know at school (at LSU), whenever guys got on base with less than two outs, it was kind of go time and that's what I've always thought of it as," he said.
"I was really happy with my slider. I threw it early in the count for strikes well and when I had to throw that 0-2, 1-2 slider I thought it was great for me, too. I was also happy with going in on hitters, thought I did a good job of that, making them feel pretty uncomfortable."
Gausman said his slider was improved over that first outing when he gave up six runs (four earned) over four innings at Harrisburg.
"At Harrisburg, I thought I babied it a little bit. I didn't let it do the work for me," Gausman said. "I tried to make it too good and left it up and gave up a home run on the slider. I think I could have hit that pitch out. One thing I tried to focus on was throwing it down angle."
Bowie manager Gary Kendall was asked how Gausman compared to some other top pitching prospects he has managed for the Orioles.
"I'd have to say he's one of the better ones that I've ever seen," Kendall said. "He's a quality right-hander who'll be in Baltimore sometime soon."
So with an improved slider and solid velocity to go with that plus changeup, it was a good night for the Orioles' No. 2 prospect as he showed the Bowie fans his stuff.
He pitched well for the Orioles in spring training in March and tonight he featured more of the same.
"I'd say it was about the same (as the spring outings)," Gausman said. "I felt good out there and was hitting all my locations well, something I did pretty well this spring. Tonight I tried to focus on hitting my spots early in the count and expanding the zone later."