BALTIMORE -- Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman had every reason to falter in the eighth inning. The annually dreaded mid-Atlantic summer presented him with a 94-degree temperature at first pitch, with humidity around 50 percent. On the 96th pitch, it looked like he just might.Embarking on the eighth inning for only
BALTIMORE -- Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman had every reason to falter in the eighth inning. The annually dreaded mid-Atlantic summer presented him with a 94-degree temperature at first pitch, with humidity around 50 percent. On the 96th pitch, it looked like he just might.
Embarking on the eighth inning for only the fourth time this season, Gausman retired the first two batters before Kole Calhoun took him deep to straightaway center when the righty was just one out away from ending another strong start.
Michael Trout stepped in next, and Gausman -- whose fastball usually hovers around 94 mph -- reached back for 97.2 and 97.6 on the unlikeliest of days to strike out the two-time American League MVP and put an exclamation point on his first win since May 11 -- an 8-2 victory over the Angels on Sunday at Camden Yards.
"You get that competitive nature, and obviously it's Mike Trout, having to make a good pitch to strike him out," Gausman said. "Anytime you pitch against him, like [Manny Machado], he's going to get the pitcher's best stuff. It's just about that competitive nature, and knowing that my day was almost done definitely had something to do with it."
The Orioles were able to salvage a win on the seven-game homestand, and the offense stepped up to tie a season high with four homers to get the deserving Gausman his first win in nine starts.
Gausman, who's felt more comfortable on the mound after modifying his delivery this season, worked through a first-inning run and kept a low pitch count through the crucial middle innings to stay fresh. "That's always good, especially when it's hot like today," Gausman said of his short innings. "Trying to get the guys back in the dugout to cool off. Had some quick innings, that's always good."
Without a team win against an American League club in June and without a win in a Gausman start despite four straight outings of three or fewer runs, the Orioles started July off on a high note.
"We're undefeated in July. Sometimes, you have to laugh to keep from crying, right?" manager Buck Showalter joked. "... It just hasn't happened for us, but we have half the season left. That's the approach we're taking."
The Orioles' offense didn't wake up until the fourth inning. But when it did, it was loud. It started with luck, as Adam Jones was gifted first base when Angels second baseman Ian Kinsler lost a routine popup in the sun. Five pitches later, Machado belted a hanging slider 398 feet to left, as projected by Statcast™.
Four pitches after that, Mark Trumbo crushed another hanging slider for his first of two homers of the day.
Jones' luck and the ensuing back-to-back homers began what was a six-run inning for the Orioles. It ended Angels spot starter William McGuire's day at just 3 1/3 innings and emphatically erased the first-inning run given up by Gausman.
"Those are the types of things that have been happening to us," Showalter said of the dropped popup. "I don't care who you are, if the ball gets in the sun, it stays in the sun. … I thought one of the big keys today, the things we haven't been doing, was the add-on runs. We get the six-spot and we add on some more runs. And that keeps a good mentality going."
After Trumbo's second homer of the day -- a 444-foot shot, the longest Orioles big fly of the year -- in the fifth, Chris Davis was about a yard short of back-to-back jacks again. But Trey Mancini kept the 18,351 fans at Camden Yards on their feet, launching the Orioles' fourth homer of the day to make it 8-1.
Steve Wilkerson, slotted in at second base while Jonathan Schoop takes some time to reset at the plate, left the game in the ninth inning with signs of an oblique injury. Showalter and his staff took the precautionary route and put Schoop back in at second for the final three outs.
"Just bothered [Wilkerson] to hit, and I didn't want to take another chance with him that last inning," Showalter said. "He brought it to our attention about the seventh inning, and he wasn't going to hit again."
The Orioles' last three home wins have fallen on holiday Sundays: Canada Day, Father's Day and Mother's Day.
"We're not winning enough games here when we play here, so that's not our best," Showalter said. "That's a pretty easy answer, right? We want to do better. We haven't been able to hold some leads when we got them. Today we did."
HE SAID IT
"I think he's kind of under the radar. He's been a frontline starter in a lot of ways. I know that our record is going to be the bigger story, but I think he's taken some big steps forward and shut down some really good offenses." -- Trumbo, when asked whether Gausman's starts have been overshadowed by offensive shortcomings
After an off-day Monday, the Orioles turn to Alex Cobb to open a two-game series in Philadelphia on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Two starts ago, Cobb showed flashes of what the Orioles expected when they signed him this offseason, but he took a step backward last time out, getting tagged for eight hits and five runs in 4 2/3 innings. The Phillies will start right-hander Zach Eflin, who put together a 1.76 ERA in June.
Zachary Silver is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore.