Gausman threw 129 2/3 innings last season, and is at 127 1/3 innings now. It is fair to wonder if he is tiring a bit during a long season. He is 2-3 with a 4.15 ERA in five August starts.
“I definitely haven’t thrown this many innings,” he said. “I think that can take a toll on your body, but physically I feel fine. I get my work in when I need to and back off when I need to. Kind of listen to my body, that is something I learned last year.
“It is definitely a different beast, being a starter this year rather than coming out of the ‘pen last year. But I feel fine physically and my arm feels fine. I’ll never use that as an excuse.”
Gausman gave up three runs on five hits in the first two innings tonight.
“Just falling behind guys and kind of was digging myself a hole. Threw some good pitches and some really bad pitches in bad spots,” Gausman said. “Just fell behind guys more than anything. After the second inning, my stuff showed up but I threw a lot of pitches and that is what Buck (Showalter) said to me.”
Did Gausman feel that he would need to pitch a big game starting opposite Drew Smyly, who had an ERA of 0.76 in his last three starts?
“I know who he is and know his numbers. I knew that going in and it was going to be a pitchers’ duel,” Gausman said. “I wish it would have been but I struggled early on.”
Smyly limited the Orioles to two hits over seven innings, and is now 3-1 with a 1.50 ERA in five starts with the Rays.
“He’s got four good pitches,” O’s shortstop J.J. Hardy said. “It’s a little bit funky, it’s different. Throws it right over the top. Good downhill plane on his fastball that was getting in on guys. Throwing a little slider down and in to righties and a pretty good curveball.
“All those guys over there, every night we go into it thinking it will be a challenge. Tonight he threw the ball really well.”
Tampa Bay lost David Price and added Smyly in its three-way trade on July 31.
“David Price is one of the best in the game so yeah, it’s nice that we don’t have to see him all the time, but Smyly is a great pitcher too, so it doesn’t get much easier,” Hardy said.
Usually when discussing an Orioles’ defensive play, it’s one that was a good play that led to an out or outs. But in the first inning tonight with a man on third and one out, the O’s infield was playing back at normal depth. Second baseman Jonathan Schoop fielded a grounder and threw home. The ball short-hopped catcher Caleb Joseph as Ben Zobrist slid in safely with the game’s first run.
Schoop felt sure he had enough time to get that out and said, given the same play tomorrow, he’d throw home again.
“I thought I had a chance at home because the ball was hard hit,” he said. “As soon as he hit the ball, I said I was going home with it. I would do that again, especially with a ball hit hard like that. I think I had a chance and I went for it.”
Hardy felt the same way.
“I told him right after it happened, ‘Great idea.’ I thought the same thing, if the ball is hit hard to me, I’m probably going to go home too. It was a close play,” Hardy said. “You know, the ball beat him, if it’s a good play we got him. I told Jonathan it was heads up and could’ve gone the other way. If they don’t score there, totally different ballgame.”
Steve Pearce extended his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games. He is batting .341 with nine extra-base hits during the streak.
Gausman now has a 1-3 record and 6.52 ERA in four career starts against Tampa Bay.
Darren O’Day pitched a scoreless ninth and has allowed one earned run over his last 26 games and 29 innings for an ERA of 0.31.