Orioles manager Buck Showalter isn’t ready to state that young pitcher Kevin Gausman is here to stay. Too many factors at play, including the pending return of Miguel Gonzalez from the disabled list.
For now, Showalter gladly will accept tonight’s outing - which produced Gausman’s first major league win as a starter - and try not to look too far ahead.
Gausman held the Athletics to one run over seven innings in a 6-3 victory. His next turn comes up Thursday against the Blue Jays at Camden Yards, three days before Gonzalez is eligible to return.
Asked about Gausman sticking in the majors, Showalter said, “That’s yet to be seen. I hope it’s a when and not if. We’re hoping to get Miguel back. He was pitching real well before he got hurt. And we’ve increased our options if we have a need. You’ve got to be seven or eight deep, especially in the American League if you’re going to do this. I’m hoping this is the start of another guy who can contribute here if we have a need, which we had tonight.
“Kevin was good, really good. Got his feet on the ground. I thought Caleb (Joseph) and him worked real well together. I wanted Caleb catching him today. He had caught him, obviously, in Norfolk.
“Good split, got enough breaking balls over to show a third pitch, established the inner half of the plate. He’s got pretty good stuff. He got in a couple situations and went and got another level, which was good to see. You never know what a 23-year-old guy is going to do in that situation. Heck, I don’t know what a 58-year-old guy is going to do. But he responded well to a need we had.”
The critical inning was the sixth, when the A’s put two runners in scoring position with one out. Gausman struck out Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss to escape the jam.
“Part of the process,” Showalter said. “You can count on one hand the guys who come up here and pitch like they’re going to pitch the whole time. One guy who comes to mind was (Dwight) Gooden. It’s just, it doesn’t happen, and you take in situations and experiences you have all over. He went back to another level there and wasn’t going to give in, and I know going into the game, the most he had pitched this year was 6 1/3 and I think 93-94 pitches, so I wanted to take him about 10 more.
“I was tempted to leave him out there because there’s always a karma change when you take a guy out who is throwing that well in a game, but Darren (O’Day) got some key outs.”
Showalter reminded reporters that Gausman has found success in the majors in the past. The trick is maintaining it.
“Like I say all the time, you’ve got to have cooperation from the other team,” Showalter said. “These guys are good. I think he has figured it out, that he just can’t sit out there and pump fastballs. He’s down in the zone, he made them think he could slow them down, which he did.
“Every team, to get where you want to get at the end of the season, the last team standing, if you look back at the characteristics of all of those teams, something that they were particularly counting on appeared on the scene and was a big difference-maker. Kevin has the possibility of being that, but he’s going to need a lot of help.”
There didn’t seem to be as much of a buzz surrounding Gausman’s latest call-up. The anticipation level appeared to be lowered a notch.
“I agree, it was a different atmosphere, different circumstances,” Showalter said. “I don’t think it was like he felt like he was the guy that everybody was counting on to be perfect tonight. But we really needed those six or seven innings tonight. And now we’ve got a chance to get back on our feet tomorrow.”
Showalter resisted using Zach Britton in the ninth so he’d have the left-hander available Sunday afternoon. Britton threw 29 pitches in two innings last night.
“He should be getting back anytime now,” Showalter said. “He may not be coming to see us unless he needs a free meal.
“The plan is to activate him tomorrow. We’ll see. Make sure he’s OK, check him out.”
Nick Markakis served as the designated hitter tonight and extended his hitting streak to 12 games. He’s batting .373 (19-for-51) with four doubles, two homers, eight RBIs, seven walks and nine runs in that stretch.
Showalter said Adam Jones, who’s batting .444 (12-for-27) with a double, three homers, nine RBIs and five runs over his last six games, most likely will DH on Monday.
The Orioles have homered in a season-high seven straight games, with six multi-homer games in a row.