Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Acing test: Gausman hot when it matters most

Stepping up in Tillman's absence, O's righty extends shutout streak to 19 IP, wins 4th straight start
MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- Kevin Gausman's string of shutdown starts has coincided perfectly with the Orioles' need for a rotation member to step up. Opening Day starter Chris Tillman landed on the disabled list Aug. 24, leaving the O's without a reliable top starter.

But Gausman has looked like an ace with Tillman sidelined, extending his scoreless streak to 19 innings over his past three starts. Gausman's latest shutout performance came Saturday, when he held the Yankees to two hits over six innings in Baltimore's 2-0 win at Camden Yards.

View Full Game Coverage

BALTIMORE -- Kevin Gausman's string of shutdown starts has coincided perfectly with the Orioles' need for a rotation member to step up. Opening Day starter Chris Tillman landed on the disabled list Aug. 24, leaving the O's without a reliable top starter.

But Gausman has looked like an ace with Tillman sidelined, extending his scoreless streak to 19 innings over his past three starts. Gausman's latest shutout performance came Saturday, when he held the Yankees to two hits over six innings in Baltimore's 2-0 win at Camden Yards.

View Full Game Coverage

"He's had a great look in his eye for about a month," manager Buck Showalter said. "Not that he hasn't before, it's just there's a real driven look and presence about him. Felt like he's really kind of hit his stride."

Video: NYY@BAL: Gausman on raising money for Louisiana

The win pulled the Orioles within two games of the American League East lead, and broke their tie with the Tigers for the second Wild Card spot. With the O's engaged in these tight races, and a month left to play, their playoff chances could very well hinge on the performance of their rotation that's struggled all season.

Gausman, who has a 0.80 ERA in five starts against the Yankees this year, is doing his part to ensure the O's get a good start every fifth day.

"We all want to step up. We all want to be that ace," Gausman said. "Every time I take the mound, I'm thinking of throwing a complete game. You just kind of have to have that attitude, especially with Tilly being down, we know we have one less guy that's going to be a big innings eater for us."

It was clear from the first batter Gausman faced that his splitter was working Saturday. He got Brett Gardner swinging on an 84-mph splitter out of the zone before getting Jacoby Ellsbury to chase on the same pitch in the ensuing at-bat. Of his eight strikeouts -- one shy of his season high -- five came with his splitter.

Video: NYY@BAL: Gausman whiffs Sanchez to strikeout the side

Gausman rolled through the first three innings, fanning six of the first eight batters he faced, including striking out the side in the first. But he ran into trouble in the fourth, when he allowed three straight to reach with one out.

In need of a strikeout, he turned to his splitter, getting Starlin Castro lunging at a pitch in the dirt for the second out of the inning. He then got Brian McCann to fly out to leave the bases loaded.

Video: NYY@BAL: Gausman retires McCann to escape a jam

The beginning of the season was a challenge for Gausman. Though he was pitching better than his record indicated, he began 0-5 through his first 12 starts. But as the Orioles fight to maintain a playoff spot, Gausman has won four straight starts for the first time in his career.

"I've just been a little bit frustrated, until about a month ago, with how my season's been going," Gausman said. "I felt like I was pitching great and things just didn't go my way. Now it's kind of on the other side, the other flip side of it."

Ryan Baillargeon is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore.

Baltimore Orioles, Kevin Gausman