"Honestly, it felt like I hadn't pitched in years," Gausman said of his first Major League outing since the fall. "At times, I had to step off the mound and refocus and try to tell myself to calm down."
Gausman, who threw 56 of his 91 pitches for strikes, cruised through the first four innings before hitting a snag. He issued his first walk of the night, a one-out free pass to Steven Souza Jr. and, one out later, Curt Casali doubled on a full-count pitch to put Tampa Bay up 1-0.
"[The] 3-2 pitch to Souza was a real close pitch. Otherwise, he probably gets out of that inning unscathed," manager Buck Showalter said. "He was pounding the strike zone. That's kind of the guy we've been missing."
Gausman hit the next batter, Logan Forsythe, in the shoulder and walked former teammate Steve Pearce to load the bases. He was able to avoid further damage, getting Evan Longoria to fly out, but it would be Gausman's last inning.
"Threw some good pitches. There was a couple breaking balls that Pearce laid off," Gausman said of the fifth. "Threw a great breaking ball 3-2 to Souza that I thought was a strike. But those things you can't control. Overall, ended up getting out of it. I was more upset throwing a fastball right down the middle to Casali. 3-2, you could tell he was looking for it. Major League hitters don't miss that pitch."
Gausman, who is 2-4 with a 5.65 ERA in 10 career games (eight starts) against the Rays, was confident he can use Monday's outing to get on a nice roll this season.
"I feel ready, and ready to take the ball every fifth day," said Gausman, who went went 4-7 with a 4.25 ERA in 25 games in 2015. "I wanted to go seven innings my first outing, and I was on pace to do that. That fifth inning, those walks, hit Forsythe, and those things come back to bite you."