O’s game blog: Kevin Gausman pitches road trip finale

The Orioles play their road trip finale this afternoon at Tropicana Field against the Tampa Bay Rays. The trip began as the Birds went 1-3 at Boston and then 2-2 in Chicago. They have split the first two games of this series - beating the Rays 2-0 on Friday and losing 5-1 yesterday.

The Orioles are 17-35 overall, which is a .327 winning percentage that projects to a final record of 53-109. The Orioles are 7-22 on the road, winning just four of their last 22 away from Baltimore. They are now 4-26 when scoring three runs or less. They are 9-13 versus American League East teams and 4-4 against the Rays.

Right-hander Kevin Gausman (3-3, 3.48 ERA) get today’s the start for the Orioles and it’s his 11th on the season. His last was his latest good one, as he allowed nine hits but no runs over 6 1/3 innings Tuesday, getting a no-decision in a 3-2 O’s loss at Chicago against the White Sox. He walked one and fanned 10 on 106 pitches.

gausman-sideb-follow-through-gray.jpgGausman had been averaging swings and misses on 11 percent of his pitches this year heading into this start. In that game versus the White Sox, he got that on 23.5 percent.

His fastball averaged 94.4 mph and topped out at a season-best 99 mph. He got swings and misses on 17 of 41 split-finger fastballs. It was dominant stuff at times.

“We know that he has that capability,” manager Buck Showalter said of Gausman after that game. “What I like is that he’s pitching and then, when he has to get a little extra, he goes and gets it. That’s been fun to watch. There is a real confidence there. You can tell he feels good where he is with all his pitches. There is not just one thing (working). If he thinks someone is not going to get off the fastball, then he’s got weapons to go to. But his command was good, too. He got a lot of strikes called on both sides of the plate and that was good to see.”

The Orioles will see Sergio Romo (1-1, 4.66 ERA) as a starter today for the second time in this series. He allowed one run and two hits over two-thirds of an inning Friday and took the loss as the Orioles beat the Rays 2-0.

That was his third start among his 21 games. Once again, he will be the so-called “opener” and, after pitching for an inning or two, will be replaced.

For the year, he has pitched 19 1/3 innings, allowing 20 hits and 10 runs with nine walks and 27 strikeouts. In three games versus the Orioles this season, Romo has allowed two runs and four hits over 2 2/3 innings, going 1-1 with a 6.75 ERA.

Tampa Bay is 24-26 through 50 games, winning nine of its past 14 games. The Rays are 10-13 at home, but have won just two of their past eight at the Trop. They are 10-16 against the AL East and 19-1 when scoring five runs or more.

The Orioles scored nine runs Thursday at Chicago, but have scored just three runs in the first two games of this series. They have plated just three runs in their last 24 innings.

If you need a pick-me-up after this latest loss, here is one: the combined pitching lines of three homegrown pitchers in their last starts. Gausman, Dylan Bundy and David Hess have combined to allow three runs and 15 hits over 22 innings for an ERA of 1.23. This includes games of 10 strikeouts for Gausman and 14 for Bundy.

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