So who knew Kevin Gausman would need so few pitches in his first career complete-game win?
“It’s great. Complete game with 78 pitches. I’ll take that for sure. That’s gotta be a record,” Gausman said with a laugh.
He didn’t need any more pitches with the game called after five innings by rain and the Orioles winning 3-1 over the Yankees. Gausman improves to 4-2 with a 3.29 ERA.
His night didn’t start out great. Brett Gardner led off the game with a homer to right.
“I knew right away it was a bad pitch location,” Gausman said. “Right down the middle. Unfortunate it happened right away. To give up one on, I think, the fourth pitch of the game was frustrating. But, honestly, I think it kind of woke me up a little bit. I was like, all right, I need to figure it out.”
He did that, giving up just three singles the rest of the way. He fanned two without a walk and retired the last seven batters he faced.
Gausman was on the mound when the weather took a turn for the worse in the top of the fifth. The wind picked up in a big way and it was clear the rain was imminent. Play was halted in the bottom of the inning and the game was not called until 2 hours, 22 minutes later.
“I felt it right before I threw the pitch and I turned around and there was trash everywhere on the field. I wondered what happened,” he said.
“I don’t know how long we sat around until we found out. It was kind of getting ridiculous. It was like 12:10 and we still hadn’t heard anything. I made the joke that we’re pretty much on the All-Star break.”
The wait was worth it to get another American League East series win and the O’s extended their lead over second-place to Toronto to four games at the break.
“Anytime we can extend out lead, it’s pretty big,” Gausman said. “Wish we had been able to win yesterday, but with Toronto losing today, going into break, I think we all feel pretty good about what we’ve done the first half. But it won’t mean anything if we don’t have a solid second half.”
Gausman’s first half ended well. In his first start of the year, on May 14 against Detroit, he gave up five runs in four innings. But he has pitched to an ERA of 2.36 in his six starts since. He’ll begin his second half with a start Sunday at Oakland.
How does Gausman size up his first half?
“Been kind of crazy,” he said. “Kind of a lot like last year, lot of different things thrown at me. Last year was starter, reliever, starter, that type of thing. At least I can say I’ve been a stater the whole year and been able to find out my routine. Been a whirlwind, but it’s obviously been great. I’ve had the most success that I’ve had in the majors. Really just try to hit the ground running in the second half.
“I think I heard something earlier that we have the toughest second-half schedule. It is just another opportunity for us to play great teams. It will only make you better at the end.”
Chris Davis gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead in this game with an opposite field two-run homer in the fourth inning. He hit No. 15 on a 1-1 pitch. It was the 41st go-ahead homer by the team this year and the sixth by Davis, which ranks third on the club.
“It was actually the same pitch he (got a) called strike three on my first at bat,” Davis said. “A call that I thought was down. After that, I was just trying to go up there and see the ball and hit it. Wasn’t trying to do anything special, just barrel it up.
“Think it’s definitely a positive sign to go the other way. For me it doesn’t matter if the pitch is in or away. A lot of times when I’m swinging the bat well I drive the ball the other way well.”
Davis talked about the club’s four-game lead atop the AL East and looked ahead to the second half.
“It is something to be proud of,” he said. “To be this deep in the season and to be in the position we’re in. We have a goal of winning the division this year. We don’t want to creep into the playoffs. We want to control our own destiny, so to speak. We are definitely in the driver’s seat right and hopefully we keep it going.
“Now it’s just going out there and doing the things that have made us successful. There are areas of our game we can improve. This is a good little break for everyone to take a breath, reflect, regroup and then get ready to get back after them.”