WASHINGTON - Right-hander Kevin Gausman recorded a quality start and the Orioles became the first team this year to hit more than one homer in a game off three-time Cy Young Winner Max Scherzer. But that didn’t get them a win tonight at Nationals Park.
The Nats’ 19-year-old rookie sensation Juan Soto delivered his latest big hit. This was a two-run double to left center in the eighth as the Nats broke a 2-2 tie and beat the Orioles 4-2 in front of 36,868.
The Orioles fall to 21-52 and went 1-5 this season versus Washington. They have lost 11 of 13 and 20 of their last 26 games.
Reliever Mychal Givens took the mound in the eighth for his second inning and tried to keep it 2-2. But Bryce Harper led off with a double to right and advanced to third on Trea Turner’s single to center. That brought up Soto, who began the year in the South Atlantic League and was playing just his 28th major league game. He lined an 0-1 fastball at 96.5 mph to the gap to break the tie.
Earlier, the Orioles produced the two longballs against Scherzer. Colby Rasmus connected in the second for a 1-0 lead and Mark Trumbo went deep in the fourth for a 2-1 lead. Scherzer had allowed eight homers over his first 15 starts before tonight. Scherzer had gone 27 consecutive starts without allowing multiple home runs until this game.
Rasmus came off the disabled list before the game and was making his first O’s appearance since April 6. He had started the year 2-for-21 with 13 strikeouts in eight games. But he hit a 95 mph fastball out to center on a 1-1 pitch. It was his first homer and RBI as an Oriole and first homer for anyone since June 11, 2017. Rasmus hit the ball 414 feet.
In the Nationals’ third, Wilmer Difo led off with a single and advanced to third on Pedro Severino’s double. Difo scored on Bryce Harper’s sac fly for the 1-1 tie.
But Trumbo provided the Orioles with another one-run lead. He hit No. 6 off a 93 mph fastball. Trumbo’s blast traveled 411 feet with an exit velocity of 107 mph per Statcast. Trumbo hit three homers his first 36 games and now has hit three in his past four games.
The O’s lead held up until Gausman hung a slider that Anthony Rendon didn’t miss. He crushed the 1-2 pitch 430 feet to left-center in the Washingon sixth. That was his seventh homer and produced the 2-2 tie.
After Gausman went six innings and delivered his eighth quality start, Givens came on in the seventh. He allowed a leadoff triple to Difo, a liner to right-center just out of the reach of right fielder Rasmus. But Rasmus would make up for that. With one out he caught a liner by pinch-hitter Daniel Murphy and threw home to get a 9-2, inning-ending double play. His throw, which went the whole way in the air, sailed high, and catcher Caleb Joseph had to leap to catch it and then come down with the tag. He did both beautifully to keep the game tied up.
Neither starter got a decision. Gausman allowed four hits and two runs over six innings, with four walks and three strikeouts. He threw 73 of his 114 pitches for strikes and exits this game with a 4.38 ERA. The 114 pitches is a season high.
Scherzer allowed two earned runs or fewer for the 15th time in 16 starts. Over seven innings he gave up five hits and two runs with one walk and nine strikeouts. He exits with a 2.09 ERA after throwing 102 pitches, 72 for strikes. His ERA is 1.16 in his last four starts versus Baltimore. This was his 14th quality start of the 2018 season.
The Orioles, now 10-29 on the road, lose two of three here. Now this six-game road trip moves to Atlanta for a series with the Braves, which begins on Friday night.
Mancini note: After the game manager Buck Showalter said Trey Mancini sat out tonight due to a stiff neck. They are hopeful he can play on Friday night in Atlanta.
Showalter on Gausman: “First-pitch strikes, they got him in some deep counts but two runs over six innings, you’ll take your chances. Another quality start by our guys. Obviously, you’re facing a good pitcher, he gives up a couple of solo home runs we collided with. We couldn’t really mount a whole lot of offense other than that. Kevin matched him, we just couldn’t hold the tide there in the eighth.”
Showalter on Rasmus’ game: “He had a couple of good breaks on balls, some of them we haven’t been catching out there. But it was good to see. He almost caught that one in the gap. But he got off a good throw. I know he was excited about getting here today. It’s been a long journey for him. I had him go over all the cities he’s been in, from Frederick to Harrisburg, I can keep going. Bowie. He’s made the rounds. He’s put in a lot of work to get back here, so everybody was excited to see him come back in the locker room today.”
Showalter on Mancini missing this game: “Mancini was unavailable tonight. He had a stiff neck. They worked on him most of the day. They think he should be OK tomorrow. But we’ll wait and see. But he was unavailable. That’s why we were a little short there. We didn’t think he’d be an option tonight, but I’m hoping he’s ready to go tomorrow, especially against a left-hander. We’ll see.”
Gausman on his outing: “I felt good, physically. It was pretty sporadic, to be honest. Obviously, my walks kind of showed that. The one I’m most mad about is you’ve got two outs and you’ve got an 0-2 count on Harper (in the fifth), you kind of have to put him away there. But I just kind of battled and I really had to. They did a really good job of fouling off really good pitches and also taking some really good pitches too, so they definitely battled.”
Rasmus on his throw on the 9-2 double play: “You know, Murphy coming up. He got jammed a little bit and I got excited with a chance to throw him out. So I just came up and you know, aim high and let it fly. Thankfully, Caleb came down with it and we were able to get him.”
Rasmus on homering off Scherzer: “Man, it was fun. Like I said, we go way back. So I’ve faced him for a long time and it was fun. To face the best is always a good time.”
Rasmus, did that experience against Scherzer help you?: “I’d say it did. Yes sir. Baseball don’t lie. The ball don’t lie.”