The Orioles may not be sellers, but they were ready to trade tonight’s game. Maybe for an outcome to be named later.
Kevin Gausman allowed a career-high four home runs through the third inning and the Cubs built an eight-run lead before the Orioles stormed back to tie it in the bottom of the eighth. A miserable night took a dramatic turn for the better.
And then the ninth inning arrived and it was time again to make a deal.
Addison Russell lined a home run off Brad Brach with one out to give the Cubs a 9-8 victory in front of an announced crowd of 34,355 at Camden Yards that waited through a 49-minute rain delay at the start.
Mark Trumbo’s two-run homer in the eighth off Koji Uehara, the third former Orioles reliever used by the Cubs, knotted the score at 8. The bullpen turned in 5 1/3 scoreless innings, with only two hits allowed, before Russell’s home run.
The Orioles are 42-47 overall and 25-17 at home. The Blue Jays won tonight, leaving the teams tied for fourth or last place, depending on your view of the standings.
The game ended with pinch-hitter Johnny Giavotella called out on strikes against Wade Davis, making him 3-for-6 against the Cubs’ closer. Giavotella argued to no avail.
A four-run fifth inning enabled the Orioles to get within 8-6, both starters turned spectators.
They brought up the potential go-ahead run in the sixth and seventh innings without scoring, wasting a total of four walks and increasing their stranded count to 10. But Jonathan Schoop reached on a bloop single with one out in the eighth and Trumbo unloaded for his 15th home run.
Gausman tied his career high with eight runs allowed and manager Buck Showalter replaced him with left-hander Richard Bleier to start the fourth inning. Gausman gave up seven hits, walked a batter and struck out five, and his ERA rose from 5.85 to 6.39 in 100 innings.
Tonight marked Gausman’s second-shortest non-ejection start of the season. He lasted only 2 2/3 innings on April 18 in Cincinnati while also allowing eight runs.
Willson Contreras hit a three-run homer in the first inning and Kyle Schwarber homered on the next pitch, as four of the first five Cubs reached base. Two were able to circle them.
Addison Russell doubled with one out in the second and Ben Zobrist homered to increase the lead to 6-0. Zobrist is 8-for-13 lifetime against Gausman.
The first two batters struck out in the third inning, but Gausman walked Ian Happ and surrendered a two-run homer to Jason Heyward, whose ball became the 92nd to land on Eutaw St. and the 52nd by an opponent.
Gausman threw 28 pitches in the first inning to set the tone. He was gone after 69 pitches, 42 for strikes.
Welington Castillo homered to lead off the bottom of the third inning after Cubs left-hander Mike Montgomery retired the first six batters without letting a ball out of the infield. Adam Jones was hit by a pitch with two outs and should have scored on Manny Machado’s double, except a fan wearing a glove reached over the fence and interfered with the ball, forcing Jones to stop at third base. Schoop grounded out to end the inning.
Showalter argued that Jones should have been allowed to cross the plate, but the umpires refused to change the call after a lengthy discussion.
The Orioles scored once in the fourth inning to reduce the lead to 8-2. Trumbo walked and raced home on Chris Davis’ double to right-center field, with third base coach Bobby Dickerson making an aggressive send. Davis moved to third on a wild pitch, but he was stranded.
Two line outs, a walk and a ground ball. The deficit stayed at six runs.
The Orioles whittled it to two in the fifth on RBI singles by Trumbo and Trey Mancini off reliever Justin Grimm and Joey Rickard’s two-out, two-run single with the bases loaded. Castillo walked to bring Rickard to the plate, and he ran the count full before lining his single into left field.
The inning included a one-out single by Machado and automatic double for Schoop.
Bleier retired the first seven batters he faced before Heyward doubled to center field with one out in the sixth inning, the ball freezing Jones and clearing his head. Darren O’Day stranded Heyward and Bleier’s ERA dropped to 1.38 in 32 2/3 innings.
The Orioles brought the go-ahead run to the plate in the sixth after Pedro Strop walked Machado and Trumbo in his return to Camden Yards. Former Orioles left-hander Brian Duensing retired Davis on a pop up to preserve the Cubs’ 8-6 lead.
Carl Edwards Jr. walked Mancini to lead off the seventh and Rubén Tejada with two outs, but again, the Orioles couldn’t get any closer. Jones struck out to end the threat.
They got closer in the eighth. They got the hopes up of fans who were screaming again during the first inning for the team to sell. But some nights, you can’t buy a win.
Zach Britton had another scoreless inning in his fourth appearance since coming off the disabled list, shattering a bat on a single and striking out one batter.
Showalter on Gausman: “Just command. He was missing. Kept waiting for him to get on the horse a little bit and he never got on. That was tough. You hate to see anybody struggle like that. They’re a good team, but really, the breaking ball ... just nothing to slow them down and didn’t locate his fastball enough to make some things work for him. Kept waiting for him to hit his stride there, but never did.”
On bullpen: “It was great. That’s as good as you could ask, especially with that much time off. We’re lucky because with that much time off, we had everybody available. You do that a couple times a few days from now, you’re going to have some issues. But I thought that was two times in a row Zach has thrown the ball like Zach throws the ball and that was good to see. Everybody pitched well, even Brad. He had one ball he got over the plate and guy cheated on him and popped him, but what a great job by our guys to come back to tie that ballgame. It takes a lot for you to get there and then it’s tough to get over the hump. We were hoping to get one more shutdown inning, but that’s asking a lot of a bullpen. It really is.”
More on Gausman: “It’s frustrating. We’re trying to find the answers and you get them for a period of time. His first three or four innings his last outing, it looked like we were going to get a continuation of it, and then today he gets basically a week off and just didn’t have command of anything. His stuff, velocity, but there’s a lot more to it. People turn around a bullet at this level. If you look back through it, like we were looking between innings, he’s trying to go in and he’s center-center, and you’re trying to go away and these guys up here, they don’t miss balls in the center of the plate.”
On Gausman trying to get fresh start: “I understand the way it may look, but the guys at this level you have to keep grinding, especially when you have talent like Gausman. So, I think he’s going to look the next outing as an opportunity ... They can put you on your heals a little bit. I don’t care how good you are, especially at this level, they really test you mentally.”
On using Britton in eighth and Brach in ninth: “They were both going to pitch. It’s good to have three or four of those guys we have back now. We’re going to use them accordingly. So, Zach’s really had one Zach-like outing coming into tonight and he had another one. That’s good to see. That’s a good thing, regardless of how we use him.”
On using Giavotella: “Davis is pretty much a reverse-split. You’re doing him a favor by putting a left-handed hitter up there.”
On fan interference play: “We felt pretty strongly that it would not have gone in the stands. That’s the discussion. We’ve never seen a ball hit down there and not stay in the ballpark. Looking at the replays, there was nothing definitive enough angle-wise to think that they would overturn it, especially that early in the game. There’s a lot of plays up here where the replays just can’t give you enough definitive for them to be able to rule it on the field. If they had called that the other way, I don’t think Joe (Maddon) would have had any reports either to change it. So, it’s one those you have to wear.”