O's look to bounce back tonight, plus checking in with top pick Brian Gonzalez

Well, if you didn't have a dog in the fight, it was a great game to watch. Plays at the plate, an attempted steal of home, enthusiastic crowd, some clutch hits, some homers and fine defense.

But it was a loss to Oakland last night for the Orioles, one that leaves them 6 1/2 games out in the American League East. It was a tough start to an important 10-game homestand that will see two first-place teams invade the Yard.

Oakland improved its AL-best record to 38-23, its league-best road mark to 21-11 and its major league-best run differential to plus-121.

The flurry of roster moves Friday will lead to Kevin Gausman getting the start tonight. He pitched one inning in a start on Wednesday and was taken out in case he would be needed tonight. Will Gausman be here for good this time?

He is 1-3 with a 2.98 ERA in 10 starts this year for Triple-A Norfolk and has an ERA of 2.35 over his last seven starts. It seems he always faces a good team when called up, Detroit when he came up in May and the A's tonight.

Maybe it's time to just let the kid go, pitch every five days and learn whatever he still needs to learn to get hitters out at this level. It's not like the O's rotation has exactly been setting the world on fire.

Gausman was the fourth pick in round 1 of the draft two years ago and the O's made another top pick yesterday.

I had a chance to interview the Orioles' first 2014 draft pick last night when I spoke to Florida high school pitcher Brian Gonzalez, the player the O's drafted in round 3 with the 90th overall pick.

Gonzalez seemed very open to bypassing his University of Miami college commitment and signing with the Orioles if the dollars are right.

"I think we have an understanding that if the Orioles give me a great opportunity, it's going to be hard for me to pass up that opportunity," he said.

The 18-year-old lefty said he had a pretty sleepless night on Thursday after the first two rounds of the draft.

"Didn't get much sleep," he said. "After the first day, was probably thinking, maybe overthinking, where I could get picked. Woke up early and got on the computer and waited for the picks to start rolling in. The Orioles called me earlier in the morning and said they might take me with one of their picks. We didn't know what round."

The 6-foot-1, 230-lb. Gonzalez went 10-0 with a 0.50 ERA, 129 strikeouts and pitched two no-hitters for Florida powerhouse Archbishop McCarthy in Ft. Lauderdale.

He said playing ball in south Florida has prepped him well for the next step.

"Playing here for four years, the competition is ridiculous," he said. "So much talent down here. So much of an atmosphere. It has definitely helped. Every city and county has a great program and our coach prepares us, picking the tough teams to play."

Gonzalez seems to be a rarity in that he is a high school drafted pitcher whose second best pitch is his changeup. Many high school hurlers seldom throw a changeup, but Gonzalez feels he has a pretty good one. He said his father would not let him throw curveballs until he got to high school. The effect was that his changeup is a solid pitch.

He told me in a normal game he might throw 60-65 percent fastballs, around 30 percent changeups and the rest are curveballs.

"I really use my fastball-changeup combination to get hitters out," Gonzalez said. "I throw a curve to get ahead in the count, or if a have a lefty-lefty matchup I will use that instead of a changeup. But the fastball-change combination got me here.

"I can throw it in any count. Throw it to try and get a strikeout or a groundball. Being able to manipulate and control my changeup I think helps set me apart from other pitchers. My curveball has been good, been working on it and want to be more consistent with it."

After two days of the draft, the Orioles have selected eight players overall - five pitchers and three position players - with seven of the selections being college products. The Orioles selected two right-handed pitchers, three left-handed pitchers, two infielders and one outfielder. The draft will conclude today with rounds 11 through 40 beginning at 1 p.m.

From yesterday, here is the rundown on Friday's O's draft picks and here is the longer story from last night I wrote on the interview with Gonzalez.

Looking back on last night
Cruz on attempted steal of home, Hardy on error, M...

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