Near comeback aside, the Orioles loss Friday was typical: Starting pitching let them down - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Near comeback aside, the Orioles loss Friday was typical: Starting pitching let them down

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

It was absolutely, positively the worst thing that could have happened to the Orioles in their first game back from the All-Star Break.

And then, suddenly, it wasn’t.

And then, well, it was again.

The Orioles’ 9-8 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Friday night was 2017 Orioles baseball in a snapshot.

The starting pitching was awful. The offense sputtered and then started crushing the ball. The bullpen was steady and then leaked just a little bit.

Ultimately, the Orioles (42-47) suffered another loss, their 47th of the season and first of the supposed-clean-slate second half.

Yes, they had a stirring comeback, down 8-0 in the third, the Orioles battled all the way back and tied it on a Mark Trumbo homer.

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And maybe that gives them the boost they need to jumpstart the second half; Trumbo hopes so.

“We need to play good baseball, obviously win, but show some of the signs of life that we did tonight,” he said.

I won’t dismiss that entirely, but what sunk this team in the first half is what they had to deal with Friday night, a disastrous performance from a starting pitcher.

And it stings even more that it was Kevin Gausman, again, who gave his teammates virtually no chance by allowing eight runs in three innings. He gave up four runs – on two homers – in the first inning. He allowed a two-run homer in the second and another two-run bomb in the third, his last frame.

Four homers – a career worst – and eight runs allowed – tying a career worst – in three innings.

“Yeah, it’s frustrating. Obviously, I wanted to come out here and hit the ground running going into this second half,” Gausman said. “It was just bad. I kind of became a two-pitch pitcher out there. When you’re a starter trying to do that, some days you can get away with it. Most days you can’t. It was just bad execution.”

It probably is too much to put a team’s chances on one guy’s shoulders, especially a 26-year-old. But Gausman was supposed to take the next step this year, and he’s gone completely backward.

He showed some improvement in two of his past three starts, and then he delivers Friday’s nightmare on six-days’ rest.

“It’s frustrating. We’re trying to find the answers and you get them for a period of time. His first three or four innings his last outing, it looked like we were going to get a continuation of it, and then today he gets basically a week off and just didn’t have command of anything,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “His stuff, velocity (is there), but there’s a lot more to it. People turn around a bullet at this level. … He’s trying to go in and he’s center-center, and you’re trying to go away. And these guys up here, they don’t miss balls in the center of the plate.”

Gausman’s ERA is back to 6.39. He’s had one quality start – a two-hit gem against Tampa Bay – in his last nine outings.

If his name weren’t Gausman, if he hadn’t had success in the past and if the Orioles had anyone to replace him from the minors, he’d probably already have been sent to Triple-A Norfolk. He has a minor-league option remaining.

But the Orioles keep hoping. Really, because they know Gausman has talent. And because they have no one else better – or at least with Gausman’s upside to be better.

“I understand the way it may look, but the guys at this level, you have to keep grinding, especially when you have talent like Gausman,” Showalter said. “So, I think he’s going to look at the next outing as an opportunity … They can put you on your heels a little bit. I don’t care how good you are, especially at this level, they really test you mentally.”

Friday was supposed to signal a fresh start. Chris Davis was back. The team is rested. The Orioles are at home for 10 games, where they play well.

Instead, Friday was another example of the message this team has delivered most of the season. The rest of the club simply can’t make up for the rotation’s deficiencies.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Osfan73

    July 15, 2017 at 3:32 am

    What I can’t wrap my mind around is….1-the starters repeated inability to last at least five innings….2-the constant early deficits and size thereof before we even have our first at-bat. I can’t remember ever seeing a group of pitchers so prone to the implosions and meltdowns as i’ve witnessed this season.
    With this kind of pressure on the lineup not knowing what to expect from the nights starter game to game I worry about the team fracturing, finger pointing, that type of thing. Hopefully and I think they are, professional enough that wont happen. When it seems it’d be easier to just give up that’s when you need to come together even more as a team. Especially when as you say there are no better options and not alot of help coming on the horizon.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 15, 2017 at 9:27 am

      I don’t think they point fingers. Not their style. But it’d be hard to blame the bullpen or hitters if they did.

  2. TxBirdFan

    July 15, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Gausman’s results are starting to remind me of Daniel Cabrera. Great stuff but no movement equals explosively bad results. I was hoping the break would help, but at this point maybe he needs to use that minor league option. If we want to be a playoff team we can’t afford for him to figure it out at the major league level.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 15, 2017 at 9:31 am

      That’s a chilling comparison. For the sake of the sanity of Orioles fans I hope you’re wrong. But the dots are there to be connected. Still, Gausman has had prolonged success in a major league season; Cabrera’s season ERA was always elevated.

  3. Ben1

    July 15, 2017 at 8:40 am

    Norfolk is calling Gausman. Hope Buck answers the call.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 15, 2017 at 9:32 am

      I get it. But there’s no one there that instills more confidence.

  4. GSISDANNO

    July 15, 2017 at 11:12 am

    I truly think Brad Brach would benefit from a change of scenery. His confidence is way down. He has had some terrible losses/ blown saves this year. Last night wasn’t his fault but the Os bullpen had done an awesome job until he arrived. We might be able to get a young starting pitcher for him.

    • Dan Connolly

      July 15, 2017 at 11:27 am

      Brach is just fine. He’s not perfect. But his overall numbers show an outstanding reliever. It’s just his mistakes are magnified due to the situation he’s been in.

  5. ATCguy

    July 15, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    You know, in ways, it’s a shame that the “bus leagues” aren’t still exactly that. Sometimes, I think a prolonged ‘time-out’ riding the buses, and doubling up at the local Motel-6 would be a good motivation tool for under-performing players.

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