O’S 5, YANKEES 0:
Gausman posts 2nd straight scoreless start
Mark Trumbo, above, hit his league-leading 40th home run of the season, helping the Orioles avoid a sweep by NewYork at Yankee Stadium. Steve Pearce drove in three runs on three hits, and Kevin Gausman got the win.
NEW YORK — So much has been made this season about the dents in Kevin Gausman’s resume, from his struggles on the road to the Orioles’ lack of offense when he’s on the mound, that his growth into the reliable, front-end starter on display Sunday in the Bronx hasn’t gotten the proper attention.
Gausman put all those problems aside Sunday, throwing seven scoreless innings in a 5-0 win over the New York Yankees that marked his second straight start without allowing a run and capping the best month of his career with what might have been his best day of the season.
“That’s about as good as I’ve seen him,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He had really good command of his fastball and both off-speed pitches. Matt [Wieters] did a great job of, I call it, ‘rocking the boat’ back and forth and not letting them sit on anything. He could have continued and will in the future.”
Gausman struck out nine batters and scattered seven hits without a walk to lower his ERA to 3.73. He managed all of that against a Yankees lineup that scored a combined 27 runs Friday and Saturday, and he did it in spite of the nitpicking that has stolen the focus from what could be a breakout stretch for the 25-year-old former first-round pick.
He needed 22 pitches to get through a scoreless first inning, striking out two but stoking concerns that he might not get as deep into the game as he hoped. That, Gausman said, was his main focus.
“My goal was just to go deep in the game, whether I got beat up or not,”
Gausman said. “I wanted to go seven and give those guys a break out there.”
That was accomplished by throwing 108 pitches in seven sterling innings. He got more efficient as the day went on, winning the kind of two-strike battles that have frustrated him at times this season and picking up three strikeouts apiece with his fastball, curveball and split-fingered fastball.
By the time he left in the seventh, the Orioles had scored five runs, another big output reversing a trend of low run support that was easy to obsess over earlier in the season. He’d allow two runs, the Orioles would score one and lose. He’d allow three runs, and the Orioles would score two and lose.
Gausman often was made to answer for that — along with his string of 25 road starts dating to August 17, 2014, without a victory — this year.
“It’s been kind of annoying to hear,” Gausman said.
“You get the ball, every fifth day, you pitch well, and those things work out,” Showalter said. “That’s for people that equate a guy’s complete evaluation with a ‘W,’ and that’s tough on starting pitchers.”
Since the calendar turned to August, Gausman has shed some of those labels and grown into the reliable, front-end starter the Orioles selected him to be.
He had it all Sunday — easy velocity, an effective breaking ball, swing-and-miss splitters.
“I was able to throw all my pitches for strikes, and then for chase when I wanted to,” Gausman said. “I feel like when I can do that, it’s going to be a lot easier for me to get quality starts and go deep into the game.”
After his last start Aug. 23, the day the Orioles learned they’d be without top starter Chris Tillman (shoulder) for at least two weeks, Gausman challenged himself to be that kind of ace in his place. That meant long starts that save the bullpen, winning when things seem to be spiraling the other way and, of course, posting those zeros.
“I was just trying to go out there and be a stopper today,” Gausman said.
His start Sunday wrapped up what was the best statistical month of his career. He entered August hoping to erase the taste of a disastrous start in Toronto, then posted a 2.45 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 362⁄3 August innings.
If he backs that up with a standout September, two things will happen: The Orioles will have a good chance to keep their tenuous hold on a postseason spot, and Gausman will realize his potential as a front-line starting pitcher. Days like Sunday, and months like August, show it’s possible.
“He’s a stud,” said the newly signed Tommy Hunter, who returned Sunday to the Orioles. “You would like to see it every single time, but baseball doesn’t really turn out that way. He’s a very talented young man. He did a fabulous job. He did what he’s supposed to do. He’s got more talent than I’ve seen in a long time. For him to go out there and do that and step up on a day game after two losses, that’s what you’re supposed to get from a guy like him.”
Kevin Gausman struck out nine Yankees on Sunday and gave up no walks and no runs in seven innings, ending the Orioles’ losing streak at three games. “My goal was just to go deep in the game, whether I got beat up or not,” Gausman said