Gausman ‘locked in’ for big victory
NEW YORK — Orioles righthander Kevin Gausman was ready for his shining moment Sunday, and there wasn’t a better place for it than Yankee Stadium.
For at least two weeks, Orioles manager Buck Showalter had scripted his starting rotation to have Gausman pitch Sunday’s regular-season finale against the New York Yankees. If the game had any sort of postseason ramifications, he wanted Gausman, who has had remarkable success against the Yankees over his career, to have the ball in his right hand.
Gausman did his part to pitch the Orioles into the American League wild-card game, holding the Yankees to two runs on eight hits over 71⁄ innings in the Orioles’ 5-2 win. Gausman improved to 9-12 overall, with a 3.61 ERA.
“I was locked in knowing what this game meant,” Gausman said.
Gausman’s only mistake was an 0-1, 95-mph fastball to Yankees catcher Brian McCann in the fourth inning that landed in the right-field stands, McCann’s 20th homer. Gausman was charged with another run after Didi Gregorius singled off closer Zach Britton in the eighth.
Gausman praised the defense behind him, and the Orioles got a few favorable hops, too, like when Orioles starter Kevin Gausman held the Yankees to two runs on eight hits over 71⁄ innings. a grounder up the middle hit off the second base bag with two outs in the sixth to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who ended the frame there.
“I can’t say enough about our defense today,” Gausman said. “It was ridiculous.”
Gausman finished the season 3-1 with a 1.10 ERA in six starts against the Yankees.
Gausman’s spectacular finish to the season was one of the reasons the Orioles were in position to make the postseason. Over his past eight starts, in which the Orioles went 5-3, Gausman has a 2.39 ERA. He’s allowed two runs or fewer in 10 of his past 14 starts this season.
“The guys who want the ball, as a manager, you want to give it to them,” Showalter said of Gausman. “He’s had that body language of [being] ‘that guy.’ I say all the time to the minor league guys and scouts, does he have ‘it’? Does he have ‘it’?” Britton records multiple-inning relief: Despite not earning a save — he entered the game with the Orioles up 5-1 — Britton recorded the final five outs of the game. He allowed Gregorius to score in the eighth but made quick work of the Yankees in the ninth, sandwiching strikeouts of Ronald Torreyes and Brett Gardner around a groundout by Billy Butler.
“It was pretty cool,” Britton said. “I’m disappointed I couldn’t save that run there for Gausy.”
Britton ended the regular season 47-for-47 in save opportunities. Teixeira honored: Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira (Mount Saint Joseph), a Severna Park native playing his last major league game Sunday received a standing ovation from the announced crowd of 33,277 when he left the game in the seventh.
Teixeira is one of nine players to record 400 homers and win five Gold Gloves. He is also one of five switch-hitters to reach the 400homer mark, and his 10 seasons of 25 or more homers are tied for second among switch hitters, trailing only former Oriole Eddie Murray’s 12 seasons.
“When I woke up, I was ready to go,” Gausman said. “I wanted the game to start at 12 o’clock. I was pacing back and forth in here a long time, and I wanted the ball today. I think it’s even more fun to do it here. They beat us up a lot over the years way ... before my time, so it’s good to celebrate here.”
The aggressiveness the Orioles showed at the plate, which has at times led to frustrating offensive slumps, paid off. Wieters’ first homer came on a 3-0 pitch. He turned on a 95-mph fastball from Yankees right-hander starter Luis Cessa (4-4), sending it into the right-field second deck with two outs in the fourth inning to give the Orioles a 3-0 lead.
In his next at-bat, Wieters, now batting from the right side of the plate against left-hander Tommy Layne, drove a1-2 sinker inside the left-field foul pole, giving him 17 homers this season.
“Cessa was tough today with a good breaking ball and a good changeup, so 3-0, was looking for a fastball, was able to get it and just get the barrel on it,” Wieters said. “The one later was a little bit up, I think, and fortunately, it was there.”
Now a whirlwind of a season will have another chapter.
“It went by quick for me because this team was involved in the competition right from day one and never really got away from it,” Showalter said.
“You go through periods where you’ve got a chance to win the division, you got a chance to be a wild card, then you got a chance even not to be in it. You don’t overcome that without having a real strong mentality. So many times we started to say something to these guys, and I just backed off. They got it. Sometimes the best managing you do is the managing you don’t do.”