Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher Kevin Gausman looked to begin his 2018 regular season with a better start than 2017.
BALTIMORE – On Easter Sunday, Gausman took the mound for the first time, hoping to bounce back from his 4.68 ERA in 2017. In the first half of last season, batters hit .317/.387/.480 against Gausman, who had a 5.85 ERA in 97.0. Gausman was able to turn it around in the second half of the season, lowering batters’ numbers to .238/.301/.434 and a 3.41 ERA in 89.2 innings.
He couldn’t seem to carry over the second half of last season over in his first start of 2018. On the first pitch of the game, Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier hit a home run to left field. Eduardo Escobar would double to left field, scoring Joe Mauer and moving Eddie Rosario to third base. With Twins center fielder Byron Buxton at-bat, Gausman threw a wild pitch that scored Rosario and moved Escobar to third. Then, Buxton would single, scoring Escobar. After just one inning, Gausman had allowed four runs.
“Dozier just kind of ambushed me on the first pitch,” said Gausman. “I was trying to throw a fastball down and away and I knew that he was going to swing on the first pitch. He had done it the whole series. I just kind of threw it right in his wheelhouse and he was able to get a very good swing on it. Other than that, obviously wild pitch doesn’t help [brings in a run]. Then, I get Buxton 2-0 and he hit a fastball on 2-0 and just kind of slapped it the other way.”
In the second inning, Gausman had a three up and three down affair. Minnesota catcher Mitch Garver grounded out to a Manny Machado putout to Chris Davis. Dozier would pop out to Machado for the second out and then Mauer would line out to Jonathan Schoop for the third and final out of the inning.
“You’re always trying to bounce back, especially after giving up four [runs] in the first,” said Gausman. “It’s kinda what Roger [McDowell] said to me in the first inning. ‘Hey this is obviously not the way you wanted to start your season, but don’t let this game get away from you.'”
Gausman would run into trouble once again during the third inning. Minnesota third baseman Miguel Sano would drive a ball over the right field fence on a 1-0 pitch to take the Twins’ lead to 5-0. Shortstop Eduardo Escobar would homer to center field to put Minnesota at 6-0. Gausman would toss a scoreless inning during the fourth inning and was pulled for Pedro Araujo.
“Obviously you’re trying to get off to a good start and the first pitch you throw he [Dozier] hits it over the fence,” said Gausman. “But I tried to do a good job battling back and unfortunately I walked the next guy and just kind of put myself in a hole right away.”
His outing was finished after throwing 73 pitchers (46 strikes), going four innings, allowing six runs (six earned) on seven hits, while walking two, striking out three and allowing three home runs.
Noticeably missing from Gausman’s arsenal on Sunday was his power fastball. He was unable to reach above 93, which is quite uncharacteristic of the 27-year old pitcher. His fastball usually sits comfortably at 95-96.
“I felt good, but for whatever reason it kinda wasn’t there today,” Gausman said of his fastball. “It felt like I got better as the game went on, really with everything, but I will say early on, I didn’t really feel as locked in as I have been in Spring. I don’t know maybe if having a couple of extra days off had something to do with that, but my overall feel for my pitches wasn’t what it has been.”
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(Photo Credit: Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports)