Despite throwing seven innings in his last game and giving up five total runs in his previous two outings before that, Orioles right-hander Yovani Gallardo hadn’t posted a quality start since June 29.
Perhaps more startling: That win at San Diego was his only quality start in his first 11 appearances in 2016.
So Monday’s impressive outing against the Colorado Rockies definitely was important for Gallardo and the Orioles, a club that is scouring the trade market for starting pitching.
Frankly, it was Gallardo’s best performance as an Oriole.
He tied a season high with six strikeouts and 108 pitches thrown. He fell just short of his season-high for innings pitched, lasting 6 2/3.
Most important, he allowed just two runs – on five hits and two walks – and gave the Orioles a chance to win, which they ultimately did in the 10th.
“Really good, solid. Really commanded the ball well and pitched where he had to on each guy,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Gallardo. “A lot of landmines in that lineup and (he) kept the ball in the park for the most part. Unfortunately, couldn’t get a ‘W’ next to his name, but he was probably the key to the game for us.”
Gallardo is just 3-2 this season with a 5.37 ERA. But the Orioles are 8-4 in his starts.
That was part of the deal with Gallardo when the club signed him this offseason to a two-year, $22 million deal (with a 2018 option).
The Orioles knew he wasn’t the same pitcher as the one who was 17-10 with a 3.52 ERA in 2011; his mid-90s fastball has been replaced with a high-80s one.
But the 30-year-old had a reputation for keeping his team in games. Early on this season, it wasn’t that way. He lost strength in his shoulder, his fastball velocity dipped into the low 80s and he was utterly hittable. He needed a stint on the disabled list to regain that strength.
In his last four starts, he’s compiled a 4.18 ERA, certainly serviceable in the American League East. Monday’s performance was better than that, though – and he believes it was an example of what he can do for the Orioles in the second half.
“Obviously, the first half didn’t go the way I wanted it to. I came in getting hurt, and things seemed not to go my way. Ever since I came off the DL, I’ve been feeling good,” he said. “Earlier (I was) trying to overthink it, trying to overdo things. The last three or four starts, (I thought), ‘Just go out there and be myself. Be myself.’ And I think that’s what I’ve been doing.”