V. Martinez goes deep in eighth in­ning to break tie; O’s scram­ble af­ter Detroit gets to Gaus­man

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Jon Me­oli

Kevin Gaus­man al­lows three runs in six ar­du­ous in­nings, but a late Detroit home run off re­liever Brad Brach proves to be the de­cider in the first game of the series.

DETROIT — Kevin Gaus­man al­lowed three runs in six ar­du­ous in­nings in Fri­day night’s 4-3 loss to the Detroit Tigers, a start that doesn’t fit with either his re­cent run of score­less starts or the Au­gust string of dom­i­nance that pos­si­bly her­alded his ar­rival as a front-line start­ing pitcher.

There’s a through line to his sea­son, though, from those early and mid­sea­son slogs to the late-sea­son surge to Fri­day at Comer­ica Park in a play­off at­mos­phere: Gaus­man’s first full sea­son as a ma­jor league starter is start­ing to yield a pitcher whose state of mind is as im­pres­sive as his stuff.

“The most im­pres­sive? It’s all im­pres­sive,” fel­low starter Chris Till­man said be­fore Fri­day’s game. “What he’s done is im­pres­sive, no mat­ter how you look at it. I think he’s got­ten on a roll. I think a big part of a young guy be­ing suc­cess­ful and be­ing good at this level is hav­ing con­fi­dence. To get the con­fi­dence, you’ve got to have re­sults. To get re­sults, you’ve got to have con­fi­dence. They kind of play off each other.”

The Gaus­man he was re­fer­ring to Fri­day af­ter­noon was car­ry­ing a run of 19 score­less in­nings over his three starts

en­ter­ing the night, all in a stretch when Till­man was out nurs­ing a shoul­der in­jury and the Ori­oles were short a top start­ing pitcher.

Top start­ing pitch­ers post ze­ros, but they also keep their team in it when they don’t have that shutout stuff. Gaus­man dealt with the lat­ter Fri­day, de­spite a first in­ning dur­ing which he blew a 95-mph fast­ball past first base­man Miguel Cabr­era, a 2012 and 2013 Most Valu­able Player, for his first strike­out and the in­ning’s fi­nal out.

Gaus­man was search­ing for it early, and had his fast­ball smacked around some as the Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the sec­ond in­ning. He put two on with no outs in the third and pitched around it, then did the same be­fore the game fi­nally un­rav­eled a bit when right fielder J.D. Martinez hit a tworun, two-out sin­gle with the bases loaded in the fifth in­ning.

The mid­dle in­nings fea­tured bat­tles, with some of the game’s best hit­ters tak­ing Gaus­man’s best, foul­ing them off and ask­ing for an­other.

“Any­time you get in sit­u­a­tions like I was with guys on base, with no outs or one out, that’s kind of where I go to my bullpen men­tal­ity,” Gaus­man said. “There’s cer­tain sit­u­a­tions where you know as a pitcher, ‘If I get two strikes on this guy, I’m go­ing to put him away. I’m go­ing to strike him out.’ Then the next guy, you get a ground-ball dou­ble play. It’s all part of the process. I think the more you’re in those sit­u­a­tions, the more you’re go­ing to learn.”

That con­fi­dence that Till­man saw was ap­par­ent in the Ori­oles dugout as well. When Gaus­man ran into such starts ear­lier this sea­son, he would’ve left af­ter five in­nings, and maybe al­lowed a fourth run to squeak in at some point.

Add a few months ex­pe­ri­ence, and a few dom­i­nant per­for­mances, and you have a dif­fer­ent out­come — not per­fect, but bet­ter than be­fore.

“It’s about trust, too,” man­ager Buck Showal­ter said. “You start re­al­iz­ing you’re go­ing to have a pretty good fin­ished prod­uct if you let him go. He worked out of some tough jams against a good of­fen­sive team op­er­at­ing at the top of their game, and Kevin was solid.”

That Gaus­man came out and snapped through a 10-pitch sixth in­ning to earn a fourth straight qual­ity start, and sixth in eight starts, was a credit to him. He left hav­ing al­lowed three runs on seven hits with a pair of walks and seven strike­outs, his ERA inch­ing up to 3.61.

And that the Ori­oles saved him from an11th loss was a credit to the bats, but also a nod to Gaus­man. Top starters grind through nights such as Fri­day, when play­off stakes are high, and give his team a chance to come back. Gaus­man did that, even as the Ori­oles lost.

“He’s kind of earned the right,” Showal­ter said. “I think one of his best in­nings is his last in­ning. He’s shown us he can take it into that pitch count and be ef­fec­tive. He’s work­ing on ex­tra days’ rest or we prob­a­bly wouldn’t have done it.”


Starter Kevin Gaus­man gave up three earned runs in six in­nings as the Ori­oles fell be­hind 3-0 be­fore ral­ly­ing on a two-run homer by Jonathan Schoop and an RBI sin­gle by Adam Jones. The Tigers tied the Ori­oles in the chase for the sec­ond AL wild card.


The Tigers’ Jose Igle­sias and Ian Kinsler cel­e­brate scor­ing on J.D. Martinez’s fifth-in­ning sin­gle as Ori­oles pitcher Kevin Gaus­man, right, walks to the mound. Gaus­man al­lowed three runs in six ar­du­ous in­nings.

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