Baltimore Orioles fans were treated to the best start of Kevin Gausman‘s career in Oakland last night. I can’t underestimate how good Gausman was last night. Heck, I’m not sure that his stat line itself does it justice. Gausman’s line: 9.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K.
And it’s interesting; Gausman does have one complete game in his career. He pitched a five inning victory in 2014 that was shortened due to rain. And it went as a complete game. Yet last night was the first time in his career that he had pitched nine innings. And make no mistake, Gausman deserved a better fate. There can be no question.
This was a strange game, and one in fact that the Orioles probably could have lost well before they did. Oakland appeared to hit into an inning-ending double-play in the third, however the trail runner was ruled safe at first base. It appeared from the naked eye that the runner was out, so the first issue was why was he ruled safe?
Replays seemed to show that the Orioles would win this challenge. The runners foot was in the air as the ball hit Kevin Gausman’s glove. Yet the runner was ruled safe for what the umpires in New York called a lack of indisputable evidence that the call on the field was incorrect. Oakland got an extra out, through no fault of the Orioles. But to Gausman’s credit, he immediately got them out of the inning instead of making it into a bigger problem.
But in the fourth inning Manny Machado was caught stealing second. As a result of the fact that the Orioles had used and lost their challenge, they couldn’t ask for instant replay. I’m not sure they would have won that challenge, but it still would have been nice to have had the option to use it.
Yet the Birds left 11 men on base and went 0-for-7 with RISP. So they had opportunities. They just couldn’t make the key hit or drive in the key run. All things being equal, one hit with a runner in scoring position would have given Gausman and the Orioles a win. And Gausman certainly deserved it. Unfortunately it was Oakland who got that big hit, and it came in the form of a walk off two-run homer by Davis in the last of the twelfth.
That homer came off of Pedro Araujo, who was called on to pitch the twelfth. And Buck Showalter addressed after the game why he had a Rule 5 pick in the game at that key moment (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):
Darren (O’Day) is down, (Miguel) Castro’s down, (Brad) Brach. Richard’s been in three of the last four days. We get a lot of those short starts. We had our chances to win that game in nine, 10 innings.
“The only way I was going to use Richard potentially was if we went ahead and I was hoping we had enough lead we didn’t have to do that, but it just didn’t materialize. But we get some of the short starts, we get into a situation like this. But we had a lot of chances, not many, but some chances to push across a run if we get a big two-out knock, but I just feel for Gaus. That’s about as good as you can see a starting pitcher pitch.
So having to use multiple relievers early in games back in Anaheim did in fact affect this game. Even still, a lot of fans probably question having a Rule 5 pick in the game in that spot. It’s a fair question to ask, however Showalter’s reasoning is also sound.
Perhaps a bigger concern than the loss was Adam Jones being hit on the wrist late in the game. Jones was in obvious pain, and Showalter announced after the game that he would undergo an X-ray as a precautionary measure. The Orioles hope it’s just sore, but don’t be surprised to see Jones out of the lineup today.
The O’s will try to salvage a win this afternoon at the Oakland Coliseum. Alex Cobb gets the start for the Birds, and he’ll be opposed by Oakland’s Andrew Triggs. Game time is set for just after 4 PM.