Showalter and Joseph after Game 1 loss, Game 2 lineup

The excuse would be so convenient. Kevin Gausman was on a roll and the Orioles slowed it by optioning him to the minors and disrupting his routine.

Manager Buck Showalter knows it’s out there, but he’s not reaching for it.

“He did it last time, pitched an inning and came back and pitched well,” Showalter said after Gausman was charged with five runs in five-plus innings in a 5-2 loss to the Rays in Game 1 of today’s doubleheader at Camden Yards.

“I think we all search for why. A lot of it just has to do with a young pitcher who had an inconsistent day today. He knew when he was coming back and with an extra day or two like a lot of our guys get now and then. Kind of follow the same program as the last time he came up here.

“He had some sequences. Just the fastball command, like we said before the game, was a challenge. We all look for reasons why, but that’s kind of the nature of the beast up here. Because of a lot of things we have develop, we have to do things a certain way for the time being, but we’ll see how it goes in the future. But it would be a convenient excuse if you wanted to use it.”

Gausman had allowed two runs in 19 innings over his last three starts before being optioned last Friday when the Orioles needed an extra reliever. He couldn’t match Tampa Bay’s Alex Colome, who was making his fourth major league start and his first this season after being recalled for the doubleheader.

Colome held the Orioles to one run and two hits in 5 2/3 innings. He threw 104 pitches, nine more than Gausman.

“We had two pitchers where one was wildly effective and one was for a little bit,” Showalter said. “It gets magnified when ... what did we end up with, three hits on the day? Obviously, his command. I think there were over 120 pitches in three innings from both pitchers and their guy survived it a little better than our guy did. Two young pitchers that people think a lot of.

“Some days you survive that outing and some days you don’t. Like I said, it gets magnified a little bit because we didn’t swing the bats very well off their guy.”

Gausman couldn’t always resort to using his secondary pitches, as he’s done in past starts.

“He had a lot of early off-speed pitches that got him behind in the count,” Showalter said. “He was barely missing, but they were definitely balls. I thought (Tony) Randazzo was really good behind the plate today. He refused to call a pitch off the plate that may have looked good.

“You’re going through an outing like that, you’re looking for something to defend yourself with. The difference is he was able to locate a very good fastball before and his secondary pitches didn’t have to be perfect then. He never really got in that groove. He battled himself almost the whole day.”

Catcher Caleb Joseph pointed out that Gausman’s stuff “was there,” but he lacked his usual command.

“He couldn’t really get into a rhythm with the command,” Joseph said. “He did a good job of limiting some damage today. Seemed like he had runners on quite often. Walks aren’t really common for him. He’s got such good stuff that when he’s been going deep into games, that’s kind of what you’ve seen. He’s been forcing contact. He wasn’t missing by a lot. He was just missing. It led to some flare hits. The guys he walked ended up scoring.

“You’ve got to grind games out when guys don’t have their best stuff. Pitchers, out of 10 starts, they’ve going to have their best three, their worst three and it’s really those four in the middle that you really have to grind it out, so we kept going to the changeup because he kept throwing that for a strike. He had a good idea with that, so we really kept going changeup and tried to dot some fastballs when we really needed to.

“Things just didn’t go his way. Kevin has really been great for us, and he’ll continue to be good for us down the stretch.”

In the last six games since June 21, the Orioles bullpen has posted a 0.39 ERA by allowing one earned run and 13 hits in 23 innings. Relievers have walked four and struck out 17.

Evan Meek and Brad Brach each threw two scoreless innings today. Brach struck out four.

“I thought they were both sharp,” Showalter said. “That was the Evan we saw in spring and that’s one thing that R.J. (Ron Johnson) and Griff (Mike Griffin) have been saying, that he’s really coming on and kind of getting back to where he was that made us want him on the club. So it was good to see him carry that into today’s game. He and Brach both. Says something about the depth that our Norfolk club is providing.”

The Orioles did achieve one victory today. They won a review in the seventh inning after first base umpire Gabe Morales had called Ben Zobrist safe as Meek took Chris Davis’ throw and slipped on the bag. The review lasted only 43 seconds.

“I’ve seen a lot of clear-cut overturns. Not a lot. I’ve seen quite a few,” Showalter said.

“It’s like I told Gabe out there. He’s looking at the ball, he’s looking at the bag, he’s looking at the glove. You can’t. The eyes just don’t. ... It’s one of the reasons why we have replay. It’s impossible for the human eye to see all those factors at one time. A lot of them are educated guesses and that’s why experienced umpires read body language, they remember plays they had before that looked the same and ended up being that nine out of 10 times, so they revert to that. And that’s why the more experienced that umpires get, players get, managers get, the better they are at their job.

“When you have to see replays three or four times before you decide to overturn one, obviously that one they didn’t need to see very much. But that’s no reflection on the umpire. When you look at all the things you’re looking at in about a quarter of a second, you can understand how they miss some of them.”

As for a possible roster move before Game 2, Showalter said, “We’re going to talk about it a little bit. We have that ability. I know how I feel right now but I want to listen to some other people and see what they think. But we’re equipped to if we need to.”

Here’s the Orioles’ Game 2 lineup:

Nick Markakis DH
Manny Machado 3B
Adam Jones CF
Nelson Cruz RF
Chris Davis 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
David Lough LF
Nick Hundley C
Ryan Flaherty 2B

Chris Tillman RHP

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