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Gausman aims for second Opening Day start

Hurler has been sharp midway through spring, following up on strong 2017 finish
Special to MLB.com

JUPITER, Fla. -- Kevin Gausman is making his case to be the Orioles' Opening Day starter.

Gausman tossed five scoreless innings, and allowed just two hits in the Orioles' 1-0 win over the Cardinals on Thursday.

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JUPITER, Fla. -- Kevin Gausman is making his case to be the Orioles' Opening Day starter.

Gausman tossed five scoreless innings, and allowed just two hits in the Orioles' 1-0 win over the Cardinals on Thursday.

View Full Game Coverage

It was the second straight strong outing for Gausman, who pitched three perfect innings March 3 against the Phillies.

"Early on, I didn't really have a good feel for my breaking ball, and every inning it got better," Gausman said. "That's really all you can ask, to make adjustments. I was real happy with that."

Gausman struck out one and walked one, and few balls were hard hit.

"A lot of good things to take out of today, mostly a lot of ground-ball outs," Gausman said. "Only gave up a couple of hard-hit balls, so that was good."

In between the eight straight scoreless innings during his last two starts, Gausman threw a four-inning simulated game.

"I'm throwing everything," Gausman said. "In the years past, I kind of handcuffed myself a little bit in waiting to throw my splitter. It's something that's a big pitch for me, so I know I need to start throwing it early. First month of last season, that's a pitch I didn't have a feel for at all. Threw some good ones today."

Last year, Gausman was the Opening Day starter, replacing Chris Tillman, who had started the previous three, but who was on the 10-day disabled list with a sore right shoulder.

He pitched solid in the opener, allowing two runs on five hits, but Gausman had a rough first half overall, with a 6.39 ERA by mid-July.

He pitched better in the season's second half, going 6-5 with a 3.41 ERA.

Gausman made some adjustments to his offseason routine, and he thinks they've helped so far.

"I started throwing about 10 days before I normally do, and it doesn't seem like much, but that's a whole other two, three more bullpens if you think about it," Gausman said.

"I felt really locked in coming into camp, and more importantly, my body feels really good and I felt good in the fifth. Right now, that's very, very important."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter was pleased with how Gausman pitched.

"He's got a good, crisp breaking ball going on, attacking the strike zone, picking up where he left off last year," Showalter said. "Kevin's had a good spring … It's Spring Training, and he's right where he needs to be, and I'm real happy."

Showalter hasn't decided if Gausman will start the March 29 opener. He also has last year's leading winner, Dylan Bundy, or the newly signed Andrew Cashner, as options.

"I think personally I just pushed a little too hard, and tried to be better than who I am," Gausman said of pitching last year's opener.

"If it is me [starting on Opening Day], then that's great. That'll be two in a row. But if it's not, we have a lot of other good guys who deserve it. Bundy had a great year last year, and obviously Cashner had a great year, too. I don't know who it's going to be, but I don't make those decisions, and that's probably a good thing."

Rich Dubroff is a contributor to MLB.com based in Baltimore and covered the Orioles on Thursday.

Baltimore Orioles, Kevin Gausman