The Orioles’ rotation got its second wind tonight after a brief hiccup. The gut punch that followed left an entire team doubled over.
Manny Machado hit his first home run since the break and it broke a tie in the third inning, and Kevin Gausman extended his streak of quality starts to four, but Justin Upton hit a grand slam off Mychal Givens in the eighth to give the Tigers a 5-2 win before an announced crowd of 22,882 at Camden Yards.
The Orioles were five outs away from winning their sixth game in the last seven, but Givens loaded the bases on two singles and a walk and Upton destroyed the next pitch, a 91 mph fastball, to take the air out of the ballpark.
Givens hadn’t allowed a run in his last 12 appearances over 13 1/3 innings, and registered a 0.60 ERA in 26 games since May 26.
The loss dropped the Orioles’ record to 53-56 overall and 33-23 at home. The best they can do is split the four-game series after sweeping the Royals.
James McCann and Jose Iglesias, the last two batters in the order, greeted Givens with singles to right field. Ian Kinsler advanced them with a bunt and Jim Adduci walked with the count full. A 2-1 lead was at its most vulnerable stage.
Upton followed with his third grand slam this season and the seventh of his career. Givens walked all the way across the first base line and beside home plate in disgust before circling back to the mound.
The rotation had allowed three earned runs in the last 35 2/3 innings before Chris Tillman was charged with five earned and seven total last night in two innings. Gausman restored order and extended his dominant stretch.
It will make a nice footnote.
Gausman retired the last 11 batters he faced and didn’t allow a hit after Ian Kinsler’s one-out single in the third. He held the Tigers to one run and three hits in seven innings, with one walk, eight strikeouts and a home run.
The former first-round pick out of LSU has surrendered two runs and struck out 32 batters in his last four starts over 27 2/3 innings to lower his ERA to 5.15. It was 7.19 on May 14.
Tim Beckham flexed more muscle - I’ll resist saying he bends his arm like Beckham - by homering again tonight in the second inning off Justin Verlander to tie the game 1-1. Beckham led off with another shot to the opposite field, making him 8-for-13 with three doubles, a triple and two home runs since the trade.
A single up the middle in the fourth inning made him 9-for-14. An infield hit leading off the seventh made him 10-for-15. A single into left field with one out in the ninth made him 11-for-16.
Can only hope to contain him.
Can only hope the Orioles find a batting helmet that fits.
Beckham has hit four home runs in nine games at Camden Yards this season.
The Orioles had more first-inning issues tonight, with Gausman serving up a home run to the second batter he faced. Adduci saw four straight fastballs, the last clocked at 96 mph, and barely cleared the left field fence and Craig Gentry’s leaping attempt.
Adduci has two career home runs, the other on Aug. 9, 2014 in Houston while playing for the Rangers.
Gausman has allowed 17 runs in the first, the most of any inning. He’s surrendered 16 in the fifth.
It got a little easier after the first. Gausman retired the side in order in the second, and worked around a one-out single in the third and a one-out walk in the fourth - called third strikes ending the last two innings. He retired the side in order in the fifth on six pitches to leave his count at 85.
Gausman retired the side in order again in the sixth, giving him 102 pitches on the night. The bullpen remained quiet. He needed only nine to dispose of the Tigers in the seventh while Givens warmed.
The dog days of August and September bring out the animal in Gausman. He registered ERAs of 2.45 and 3.18 in 12 combined starts last season.
The lead stayed 2-1 after Beckham’s leadoff single and Seth Smith’s double in the seventh inning, the ball almost landing on the roof of the grounds crew shed. Caleb Joseph struck out, arguing that Verlander’s pitch slammed into his hand as he was trying to check his swing, and Craig Gentry flied out.
No insurance runs for the Orioles and no win. Givens suffered a rare loss, his career record falling to 17-3. The only runs he’s allowed since May 18 have been via the home run.
It was appropriate that center fielder Mikie Mahtook robbed Jonathan Schoop of a home run in the bottom of the eighth with a leaping catch in front of the bullpen. One last jab after the gut punch.
Manager Buck Showalter on Givens: “He pitched well. He was the victim of a couple broken-bat singles to right field. Can’t really fault him for that. He made good pitches and they fisted them out over the infield where Joey can’t get to them. It’s just one of those well-placed balls. I think he threw one or two breaking balls the whole inning. That’s how good of a fastball he was carrying. Unfortunately, one got a lot of the plate there with the left fielder, Upton. But he’s been throwing as good as anybody. You put a long list of relievers together, he’s right there with them. But tonight just bit him.
“There’s a lot more to that game. We scored two runs. That’s probably more of the story - for me, anyway. Verlander was good. Unfortunately, we knew he was pitching well coming into it. Carrying a lot more fastball than he had the first half of the season.”
On what umpires explained on Joseph strikeout: “Check swing. That’s one of the things I’ve been talking about is having a couple of reviews for check swings. It’s the one play that’s impossible for the umpires to really know for sure. Obviously, the intent isn’t to swing. You go by intent, it’s pretty easy. Jeff’s a good umpire, he’s trying to get it right. I disagree with him, but that was a split-second decision. I’d probably feel differently if I was in the other dugout, but like I said, we had a lot of other things that came into play.
“He’s got a check swing. If you look at a lot of replays of those over the course of a game, you can’t definitely tell from a replay, a lot of it, and that’s probably one of the reasons why. And it also makes you realize how tough a call it is. We’ve eliminated so many things that irritate people and cause some stuff like what happened tonight, but when you talk about replaying it, can everybody here say definitively that he did go or didn’t go from the replay? It depends on how you judge it. If you judge it by intent, then obviously he didn’t.”
On Gausman: “He was really good. The patience was because we knew Kevin was better than (his early-season struggles). Some of the patience we want to have because of their track record. Kevin doesn’t have a long one, but we know he’s capable of better than that. There’s a lot of things that he and Roger (McDowell) have been working very hard about executing location of pitches, and that’s really what’s changed.
“I think he might be leading the league in starts now, and there’s a lot of good things going on with Kevin. Tonight was another example of that. He was really good. Kevin looked every bit the part as Verlander did tonight.”
On whether Gausman can get pitch count down: “I challenge you sometime when a good pitcher is out there, count how many two-strike pitches are ticked off, just fouled off. And there’s a reason why complete games ... how many of them are there a year? So many times you make a really good pitch with two strikes and they tick it off and they tick it off. That’s one of the big differences in a major league game and a minor league game. You’ve got to earn everything.
“He got through seven innings after throwing (29) pitches in the first inning and he got right back in line there, and that was a challenge. I’ve been really impressed how Gaus is holding his stuff late in the game. Especially the last three or four starts. He seems to be getting stronger as the season goes on. His velocity and Mychal’s was as good as it’s been all year. It’s just unfortunate he didn’t get a better result for the pitches he made to the first two hitters.”
On whether Mancini will play on Saturday: “We’ll see. I asked Richie (Bancells) about that on the way down here and he said it’s a little too early to tell. It loosened up a little bit. Got a little better as the game went on.
“I was going to have to pinch-hit for Caleb there if the game went on. His hand, his throwing hand, just got an X-ray on that and was negative. That’s good news. Did do it on Trey (Mancini) and that was negative. So, I’m not sure about Caleb’s availability tomorrow.
“We were contemplating using Trey but trying to stay away from him. We would have hit (Welington) Castillo before him in any situation.”
On how much of Beckham’s production is jolt from new team: “We’ll see. I think Tim, if you look at his numbers, it was one of the things Dan (Duquette) was showing me during the process, outside the ballpark, The Trop. Got a new environment, things change. I’ve got a lot of confidence in our environment. I don’t want to use the word ‘culture,’ but as teammates.
“It wasn’t like I sat down and had some long deep talk with him. He wants to play and he’s going to get an opportunity here and we’ll see where it takes us. But so far he’s been really good, obviously. You can tell he seems really locked in in a lot of areas other than just day to day. He’s not going out of his way to fit in. I think guys are going out of their way to make his path easier. But we’ll see when some of the novelty of a new team wears off. But what do you want? You’d rather have it be this way.
“I don’t think anybody can stay at the pace he’s performing at right now, especially offensively. But I watch him in BP and some of the approaches he’s had allows him to hit the ball where he’s hitting it. He’s running good and we’ll see. He’s a 27-year-old young man with a real pedigree.”
(Showalter also said he has contingency plan in place in case Mancini and Joseph can’t play Saturday.)
“I think Trey is going to be tomorrow or the next day. But we’ll be prepared for it.”