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  • May
    23

    No Relief - Gausman Allows Four- Orioles lose 12-to-6

    Written by Mike Laws

    No relief

    Bullpen doubles up on Gausman’s run total; blowout ensues

    Orioles 6, Toronto 12

     

     

    Talk about a ballgame with split personalities. Like Bawlmer native son Edward Norton’s stuttering choirboy/ice-cold redneck killer in “Primal Fear” (or his effete consumerist-cum-raging pugilist in “Fight Club,” or his virulent Hitler Youth-turned-enlightened crusader in “American History X,” or — well, you get the idea), here were an initial three and a half innings that, if the message boards were any indication, had O’s fans pleased as punch — positively tickled pink, I tells ya. For therein, on full display, was justification of all the hoopla and hubbub and hullabaloo surrounding one Kevin Gausman; and of course it didn’t hurt when the Oriole offense got rolling against Gausman’s counterpart, Jays starter Brandon Morrow, with Manny Machado — another of the Birds’ thrilling young bucks, and the only player on the active roster younger than Gausman — leading the charge.

     

    Problem was, pretty much all that good stuff went right down the toilet as soon as the bottom of the fourth inning hit …

     

    So let’s get on with the bullet points, shall we?

     

    • Well, I guess we need to talk about Kevin, the big kid with the boyish face rocking No. 37 for the visitors (which I’m sure reminded everyone, as it did me, of no less a sporting personage than Kip Miller). If Gausman felt any nerves, taking to the hill in the bottom of the first in Toronto, that was betrayed only by way of a pair of early deliveries dragged outside and perhaps a touch overthrown; other than that, as Buster Olney noted in a tweet, dude looked more like a seasoned vet than someone with a birth year in the freakin’ nineties. And speaking of nineties, we’ve got to make especial note of Gausman’s fastball, which sat above 95 for the entirety of his debut, occasionally touching 98 or even 99, often with unbelievable late explosive life (witness his strikeout of fastball-loving Jose Bautista, to lead off the fifth). Of course, as Orioles from Armando Benitez to Jorge Julio to Pedro Strop can attest, having a live heater isn’t enough, at the big-league level — in which case the screwball-action fadeaway changeup Gausman showcased, in addition to a nice little late-breaking slider, ought to serve him well in future starts. Through three innings of work the kid had permitted just three Blue Jay baserunners (a seeing-eye Melky Cabrera single, a rocket off the wall from Colby Rasmus in the second, a walk of Bautista in the third), with no one so much as reaching second base; he’d also rung up Adam Lind and Emilio Bonifacio to end, respectively, the first and second (going along with an earlier called-looking Edwin Encarnacion) … 

     

    • And meanwhile, though it had squandered an early opportunity when Adam Jones grounded into a 6-4-3 twin-killing with two aboard, letting Morrow off the ropes, the offense began clicking in the third. Having worked the count full, as he is wont to do, Chris Dickerson started things off by slapping a single over short; Nate McLouth followed with a one-out single rolled through the right side. Now, that’s a lot of speed on the basepaths, and birthday boy Buck Showalter knew it, sending both Dickerson and McLouth on the very first offering to Machado — no throw, and the Birds were in business. And as it turned out, Manny made it all more or less academic anyway, ripping a curling liner over third and down the line into the corner in left, good for two RBIs and his second double, already, in this young game. Both Nick Markakis and Jones would wind up striking out swinging to end the frame, but Chris Davis, apparently, wasn’t satisfied with the 2-0 scoreline: Crush jumped all over the first offering from Morrow in the third, pulling one of his no-doubters down the line in right, where it smacked off the facing of the second deck. 3-0 …

     

    • But not for very long. The Jays greeted Gausman in their half of the fourth with a pair of doubles (Lind, to deep right on an 0-2 pitch; J.P. Arencibia, on the first pitch of the at-bat, hitting the ball hard for a second time, this time finding a hole in deep left). 3-1 … And they weren’t done yet. Brett Lawrie got a little lucky with a horrible popped bunt that settled halfway down the line to first, and somehow rolled and rolled without going foul. Colby Rasmus walked. The bases now juiced, Bonifacio took three straight balls from Gausman, then what might have been a generous strike call, then lifted a fly to deep center, where a fine running catch from Dickerson prevented a truly capital-B Big Inning — as did a Munenori Kawasaki attempt at a suicide-squeeze (another bunted pop, this one flagged down by Matt Wieters behind the plate) and an eventual Cabrera liner to center, hit hard but close enough that Dickerson could snatch it off his shoestrings. 3-2, with Gausman doing a commendable job to limit the damage — but the chinks were now showing. Some signs of trouble lurked …

     

    • And the Jays didn’t take very long to further exploit the suddenly predictable-looking rookie starter — though in the fifth they’d do all the damage with two away, following the Bautista strikeout and a fly-out from Encarnacion (whose name, by the way, Gary Thorne is still mangling every chance he gets: Onkranayseeown, Arkanason, etc. [this in addition to his hockey background shining through in the mispronunciation of “Morrow” as “Moreau”]). Lind kept things alive, again against a two-strike count, with a single; Arencibia again proved how well he was seeing Gausman’s fastball, drilling a line-shot homer over the wall in left. And just like that, the youngster was in line for the loss …

     

    • Not that the bullpen did him any favors. Called upon to keep this a one-run affair, Troy Patton and Strop would fail spectacularly, with the former recording two quick outs in the sixth before walking both No. 9 hitter Kawasaki and Cabrera, at which point he gave way to Strop, who promptly walked Bautista, loading the bases and setting the stage for Onkranayseeown, who swatted the third pitch he saw from the wild righty directly down the left-field line, kissing it off the foul pole: a grand slam. From two down to four runs in. Ugggggggh.

     

    • But hold your horses. You think a five-run deficit’s gonna scare the Baltimore bats into silence? Uh-uh, mon frère. After Alexi Casilla delivered a sac-fly to cut the lead to 8-4, in the seventh — and after T.J. McFarland spelled Strop, in the bottom half, after Strop walked another hitter (on four pitches) to lead things off — the O’s would halve the Toronto advantage, in the eighth, with Markakis and Jones going back to back to remove Morrow from the game (Jones’s shot being especially noteworthy: a vicious rope that left SkyDome, or whatever it’s called now, in a terrific hurry, rattling around in the camera well beneath the second deck before bounding back down onto the left-field grass — I mean, AstroTurf). 8-6, with Davis coming up to face lefty reliever Brett Cecil. Can the O’s complete this comeback? … Well, not so much. Davis grounded out, Wieters struck out, J.J. Hardy flied out. Gausman still in line for the loss …

     

    • And things took a further turn for the worse in the Blue Jay half of the frame — though this time, it was more the fault of the (rightly heralded) Oriole defense. True, McFarland, up 0-2 on pinch hitter Anthony Gose, did surrender a single to start things off. But then he got what should have been a tailor-made double-play ball off the bat of the imposing Bautista — trouble was, Hardy mishandled the transfer, and bobbled it, and, by the time he’d regained a hold, had no play. So that’s an E-6, men on first and second, nobody out. Similarly, Wieters lost the handle on a 1-1 pitch to Arkanason, and threw to second in an attempt to nab the advancing Bautista, and had to leap to snare the relay from Casilla, who was trying to nab the advancing Gose, whose slide eluded the tag from the Oriole catcher. 9-6, still no one out. Another Blue Jay pinch hitter, Mark (“Dude, What Happened?”) DeRosa, then walked. Arencibia then bounced meekly to third — meekly enough that Machado’s only play was at first. 10-6, now (and a little unfortunate, and a little ironic, given how hard Arencibia had hit pretty much everything else tonight). Lawrie then singled to left; 11-6. Rasmus then delivered a sac-fly. 12-6. Which, following a too-quick Oriole ninth, is how this one would stay.

     

     

    THE LABATT INCIDENT: I’m gonna blame this one on the Leafs. Apparently, Toronto sports fans are still edgy and put-upon, following their beloved hockey team’s ignominious first-round exit, the result of an epic third-period collapse in which, having rallied from down 3-1 in the series, the Maple Leafs blew a three-goal lead in game seven with something like ten minutes to go, and wound up losing in overtime. How else to explain the beer-shower with which a Blue Jay fan expressed his ill will toward Nate McLouth following a nice running catch, the momentum from which carried the Oriole left fielder fully into the stands down the line in foul ground? Even if McLouth lost his hold on the ball, after toppling over the railing, clearly he’d maintained possession long enough to record the out. It certainly didn’t merit the can chucked at him from some or other hoser in the upper deck out in left. Far be it from me to paint an entire nation with the same broad brush, but first they subject us to Justin Bieber, and now this?! Canadians are jerks, sometimes.

     

     

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