SARASOTA, Fla. – Kevin Gausman gave up one of the longer home runs Andrew McCutchen has ever hit. After Gausman breezed through three innings, McCutchen hit a long two-run home run beyond the picnic plaza in left field at Ed Smith Stadium.
But, what bothered Gausman, who became the first Orioles pitcher to throw four innings on Wednesday, was a walk to Pittsburgh’s Francisco Cervelli.
Gausman allowed three runs on four hits, striking out three in addition to the walk.
Fans who were here will remember the long homer.
“It was just a breaking ball. Hung it. I threw him all fastballs first at-bat and was really trying to get ahead right there. Should have thrown more of an out breaking ball, but I wanted to throw a strike. He’s a pretty good player. He doesn’t miss those pitches. That’s probably the worst breaking ball I threw all day,” Gausman said.
“It just goes to show you. I’m more mad about walking Cervelli than giving up the home run. Andrew McCutchen is going to get his hits and get his home runs, but if you can minimize solo home runs, it’s a completely different story than two-run homers.”
Gausman was matched against the Pirates’ Juan Nicasio, who struck out 10 Orioles in four innings. According to STATS, he was the first pitch to strike out 10 batters in four innings or less in a spring game since St. Louis’ Lance Lynn did it on March 14, 2014.
“He looked pretty good. He looked like he was throwing a lot of stuff up there. Got a lot of looking strikeouts. That’s one of those things I feel like he’s a guy who’s obviously throwing hard right now and throwing all of his pitches for strikes. If he can do that in spring, you can have a really good spring. Our lineup is a very tough lineup and that doesn’t happen very often,” Gausman said.
Manager Buck Showalter is relieved he won’t be seeing Nicasio this season since the Orioles don’t play Pittsburgh.
“That guy, he’s going to have a tough time to make their club, I’m told. That’s pretty good stuff there. That was legit, OK? Sometimes, you go, ‘Geez, we’re not swinging the bats well today.’ Well, sometimes it’s the pitcher,” Showalter said.
Gausman pitched two scoreless innings at Tampa Bay on Mar. 5, and then pitched in a “B” game against the Pirates last Thursday.
“I felt really good. This is my second game, really. I felt good to get through four innings. That was my end goal. Even my last inning, I gave up a couple of runs, but I only did it in 17 pitches. That’s a goal of mine is to let the inning just kind of completely get away from you. You’re going to give up runs, but if you can minimize your pitches in every inning, you’re still going to go deep in the game and kind of give your team a chance to win, so I felt good about that,” Gausman said.
Showalter was pleased with Gausman.
“Couldn’t have drawn it up much better except for maybe the last inning. I think he got challenged a little bit physically. That’s about as hot a day as you want to play in spring training,” Showalter said.
Gausman said he expects the other starters to begin pitching better.
“I would say so. It’s definitely a process. Early on, a lot of guys are kind of fine tuning mechanics, just trying to find everything. It’s a little bit different in spring training. It’s a different schedule, different everything, so it takes a little bit to get used to it but I know we’re all excited to get the regular season started and get the ball every fifth day, definitely,” Gausman said.
The Orioles team ERA dropped from 7.11 to 6.86.
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