We like to bring you hard-hitting pieces at BaltimoreBaseball.com. I don’t like to disappoint.
So here you go: Kevin Gausman made a conscious decision to ditch the mouth guard he uses during starts and chew on gum instead during his last outing Thursday against the Houston Astros.
The Orioles’ right-hander is a superstitious sort. We all remember stories about how he used to eat donuts in the dugout in between innings when he pitched at LSU.
He stopped that tradition as a pro. But he has others. One is using the mouth guard when he pitches; he’s often caught by television cameras chewing on it or fiddling with it, pushing it in and out of his mouth, as he walks off the mound.
He decided to switch things up Thursday for no pressing reason.
“I don’t know. I figured I’m going to try something different,” he said.
Gausman was coming off a game in which he lasted just four innings, walked six and picked up his 10th loss. On Thursday, he lasted 6 2/3 innings, walked one and notched his fourth victory.
So maybe he goes with the gum thing a little longer.
“Yeah, why not?” Gausman said.
It wasn’t all bubble gum and victories for Gausman on Thursday, though. There was one negative that came from his change in chew. He discovered it the next day.
“My jaw’s a little sore (Friday),” he said with a smile. “I was chomping on that thing.”
Another noteworthy thing from Gausman’s start Thursday – OK, none of this is really noteworthy, but it’s Sunday morning, people – is that he faced Alex Bregman in that game. That’s one great LSU player (Gausman was the fourth pick overall in the 2012 draft) against another (Bregman was second overall in the 2015 draft).
Gausman struck out the rookie in his first at-bat and then induced a grounder in the second one before Bregman homered in his third and last plate appearance versus Gausman.
They had a little fun the next day talking about it.
“We joked about it. It’s one of those things. He is going to be in the American League for a long time hopefully,” Gausman said. “So I’m not going to say I’m going to do it again, but odds of it happening are probably high because he is in the American League. I’ll probably strike him out again, also. It may turn into one of those fun, little, friendly rivalries.”
Bregman and Gausman share the same agent, but they didn’t actually overlap at LSU as students. Not really anyway. When Bregman visited as a high school senior, Gausman was one of several players that took Bregman around the campus during his visit. Also on that particular trip, Gausman recalls, was Texas Rangers slugger Joey Gallo, who ultimately bypassed college for the pros.
Gausman said he didn’t remember anything specific about Bregman’s visit, but that he was a nice kid, seemed young, and that the group went through the usual routine.
“They come the day before (a home football game), and we usually take them out. Take them to dinner, get some Cajun food, that type of stuff. And then we meet up at the baseball field, kind of give them the tour of the facility and then we take a golf cart to the football games, take them on the field at the football games,” Gausman said. “They are on the field for pregame. They play “Callin’ Baton Rouge” and all that stuff. Then they just hang out with us during the game, and you try to introduce them to as many girls as you can. That’s about it.”