Gausman escapes jam, Wieters talks about surgery (Gausman goes six)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Kevin Gausman loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first inning and didn’t allow a run.

That’s the good news.

The Rays forced Gausman to throw 35 pitches.

That’s the bad news.

The Orioles used four relievers last night. They have a six-man bullpen. They need Gausman to be more economical.

J.J. Hardy’s eighth error of the season, on Evan Longoria’s bouncer, loaded the bases. Gausman struck out James Loney and Ben Zobrist on 84 mph splitters and retired David DeJesus on a fly ball.

Zobrist saw back-to-back 95 mph fastballs before chasing the splitter. Gausman was downright nasty, the movement on his pitches testing catcher Caleb Joseph’s reflexes.

Hardy had 12 errors in 159 games last season. He has seven in the last 14 games this season.

Yunel Escobar singled in the second, but Ryan Hanigan grounded into a 6-4-3 double play on Gausman’s 52nd pitch.

Earlier today, the Orioles made catcher Matt Wieters available to reporters on a conference call at Tropicana Field. Wieters underwent ligament-reconstructive surgery on his right elbow yesterday in Gulf Breeze, Fla.

“I feel good,” he said. “Surgery went well. And hopefully we’ll get all the soreness out of here in a couple days and get going on the rehab.

“Going back to Atlanta. Will start very minimal rehab at first, but will definitely get started with the rehab plan in Atlanta and then we’ll be with the team in August and September. That’s the plan for now. Everything is very flexible, it can change. Whatever is best for the rehab process.”

Wieters still anticipates being ready for opening day.

“That’s the plan,” he said. “It’s something where they can’t give you any guarantees. It’s still Tommy John and it’s going to be nine to 12 months before you’re going to be back, but the plan is to hopefully if all the rehab goes well, we’ll be ready to go right around opening day.”

Wieters tried to rehab the arm and stayed on a throwing program, but the discomfort didn’t subside. Surgery was inevitable.

“Once we started a couple throwing sessions in and it was still feeling like it was before, it was a sign that we weren’t quite happy with where it was,” Wieters said. “We were hoping it was going to be almost completely gone when we started throwing again. But it’s something to where we always knew it was a possibility and we just didn’t want to go through piecing it together for a month or so when it was inevitable and then we cost ourselves some time the following year.”

Being away from the team, his friends, will be difficult for Wieters. He’s easily one of the most popular figures in the clubhouse.

“It’s going to be real hard and that’s why the plan all along was to be around the team as much as possible, and for me it will help give me peace of mind in keeping in touch with the guys every day and being able to help out when I can,” he said.

“It’s something that’s a new experience for me and it’s something I’m going to have to go through every step by step and make decisions on what’s best for the arm and what’s best for the team the whole way around.”

Update: Steve Pearce came through again, delivering a two-out double in the fifth that scored Nick Markakis and gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead.

Markakis reached on Ben Zobrist’s error, making the run unearned.

Pearce is 7-for-17 versus the Rays this season, with two doubles, three home runs, six RBIs, four walks and five runs scored.

Gausman has thrown 80 pitches in four scoreless innings.

Update II: Gausman threw a career-high 111 pitches in six innings, blanking the Rays on five hits and holding a 1-0 lead.

Gausman walked one, struck out five and threw a wild pitch. His fastball was touching 98 mph in his last inning.

Evan Longoria doubled to lead off the sixth, but Gausman struck out James Loney and induced a fly ball to left field from Ben Zobrist. Longoria kept running and easily was doubled off second to end the threat.

Gausman has allowed two runs in 19 innings in his last three starts.

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