Hearing from Gausman, Joseph, Cruz and Hunter

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Kevin Gausman has allowed two runs over 19 innings in three starts since being recalled by the Orioles for the second time this season.

Caleb Joseph has been behind the plate for all three starts.

Nice comfort zone.

“It’s like a friendship, working partners, and when you get to catch somebody for two, three, four years, you kind of know how they tick and know their patterns versus the game reports,” Joseph said following the Orioles’ 2-0 win over the Rays.

“You try to come up with a good game plan. Ultimately knowing how a guy ticks, what pitch gets him back on track and how to receive and how to encourage him and get on him. Kevin has been great since he’s been here and he’s really helped us try to win some games here in the AL East.”

Let’s hear from Gausman:

gausman-pitching-white-sidebar.pngOn getting out of the first inning
“Obviously, it wasn’t what I wanted. It’s pretty tough to get out of bases loaded and no outs without guys scoring a run. Honestly, I tried to dig deep right there and I was kind of thinking, ‘OK, I’m going to need my best stuff this inning. Whether I blow out later in the game and get tired, this is big. I need to get a zero right here.’ That’s really all I thought about.”

On not letting the borderline pitches bother him
“Definitely, and after the inning, that’s what Dave (Wallace) and Caleb both came and said to me - ‘Don’t worry about what’s going on behind the plate. Just make your pitches and guys are going to be swinging.’ They were pretty aggressive, so I felt like I got some strikes that way. That’s just part of the game.”

On making it through the sixth
“That was awesome. I wanted to go back out there after the sixth. I think I was at 111 pitches after the sixth. That’s just the type of guy I am. I want to have the ball and I feel like I can throw 130 pitches if I really needed to, but obviously, they’re probably not going to do that. But that definitely shows a lot of confidence in me.”

On feeling stronger each start
“It’s been great. It’s really the first year in pro ball I’ve been able to go 100 pitches. I think my last two starts and then this one have been the only ones I’ve gone 100 in since I got drafted. It’s awesome and that’s what you want. You want a starter who is going to go deep into the game. Well, you’ve got to let him. Sometimes it’s going to take 100 pitches and more to get into that seventh inning.”

On a pitch that’s identified incorrectly as a forkball
“It’s a split change. I don’t know why they call it a forkball. I don’t know anybody who throws a forkball anymore in baseball. That’s just out there. It’s just a split change. I throw that and a circle change.”

On importance of his secondary pitches
“It’s been huge, especially the second and third times through the lineups, when guys are going to be aggressive trying to get something going. They’ll be looking first-pitch fastball or especially when guys get on base, they’ll be ambushing trying to look for a fastball. The big thing for me has been being able to throw my secondary pitches for strikes and also getting ground balls on them.”

Here’s more from Joseph:

On Gausman escaping the jam in the first inning
“What a great job, huh? He did a great job. He faced some adversity there and really gritted his teeth and closed it out. He was pounding the bottom of the zone with some velocity. He did a great job of battling back and really shutting it down for us. That really saved the game for us. They had an opportunity to bust it open right there. Not only did he shut it down, he went six innings for us. What a great job by that guy.”

More Gausman
“He continued to make quality pitches over and over and over. Sometimes with a guy with less maturity, you will see them leave the ball over the middle and that’s where the damage is done. But he kept battling and battling. Even when the first guy got on, the second guy got on, he still made quality pitch after quality pitch.”

On Gausman’s maturity
“I saw it in Norfolk when I was catching him. He did such a good job of limiting it when he was there. The game is so fast up here that one pitch can turn the course of the game around immediately. He’s just in damage control mode when runners get on and once that’s over with, he goes back and just attacks the zone. He’s matured. His stuff has always been there. Now it’s about pitching more than just throwing. And he’s definitely pitching for us.”

On celebrating his 28th birthday today
“Playing baseball during the summers, you kind of forget what you are doing. But, yeah, a shutout. Anytime you are behind the plate for a shutout, catching a shutout, this is a memorable one. And it’s good to be back where I made my debut and take two of three, trying to get after those Blue Jays.”

Here’s Nelson Cruz, who homered for the first time since June 3:

On ending his drought
“Good. I felt like I was in a groove today. The ground ball to third, something clicked there. Hopefully, it takes over for the next game.”

On whether going so long without a homer weighed on him
“No. It was one of those things. It was almost impossible to stay that hot for that long, but I just keep working and hopefully I do something to contribute to the team. At-bats, run the bases or play defense. It’s one of those things you can’t worry about. Just go out there and try to do your job.”

On Gausman
“It’s been impressive. No doubt. He was having some issues the first inning, but after that, he shut it down and threw his fastball for strikes. And the other pitches did the job. His main pitch is the fastball. When he commands that pitch, he’s unbelievable like today. And also Tommy (Hunter). We need him badly and it was nice to see him pitching that well today. I think, for his confidence, it was good.”

Hunter came up big for the Orioles with two perfect innings, aided by a nice catch by Adam Jones at the center field wall.

On importance of getting job done today
“Get outs. That’s supposed to be our job, so it’s good to do it. Feels good to do it. Your job.”

On knowing he’d be needed in key situation with a short bullpen
“That’s what you’re supposed to do. I’d like to think that the big situations, you’d like to be in. Any baseball player, any athlete, would like to do it. I was able to come in and throw some pitches and the defense helped me out.”

On Gausman
“He’s a talent. He’s a hell of a talent. He’s got a good head on his shoulders, he has an idea of what he wants to do. Anytime you can reach back and grab 98, 99 out of your back pocket and flip it up there, if that’s what you want to call it, it’s something that is pretty fun. And it’s fun for us to watch, too. Caleb’s done a pretty good job. You’ve got to give him a lot of credit. But Gausman’s got an unbelievable arm and he’s got a good idea what he wants to do with it. Today kind of proved it again.”

On being 7-1 versus the Rays
“They beat us up the last couple of years. It’s fun, but then again, it’s baseball, so you’ve got to try to win every day, no matter who it is. And there’s a tough matchup coming up, going to New York. It’s never fun, it’s never easy. Kind of like anywhere else you go. Take it one day at a time and see where the cards fall at the end of the year.”

Gausman is the first Orioles rookie to toss six-plus scoreless innings since Miguel Gonzalez on Oct. 2, 2012 at Tropicana Field.

Steve Pearce is 8-for-18 with three doubles, three homers, six RBIs, five runs and five walks against the Rays this season.

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