Kevin Gausman grew up about half an hour from Coors Field and pitched in a game there as a high schooler. For a decade since then, the Giants pitcher has thought about what it would be like to return home and pitch in front of family members and friends.
Gausman pictured himself buying out an entire section of Coors Field, where he used to come every summer and get the cheap seats in the outfield.
Gausman was drafted by the Orioles, which put him in the other league, but when his Atlanta Braves went to Denver last year, he was scheduled to finally start a game near his hometown. And then it snowed.
"Which I thought was pretty perfect for the situation," Gausman joked Tuesday night.
Gausman, now 29 and with his fourth team, finally took the mound at Coors Field on the second night of a tough road trip. He was consistently throwing 97 early on, but ended up having a pretty typical Coors night, getting charged with four earned in 5 1/3 in a game the Giants lost 5-2.
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Gausman had a common night for a Giants pitcher right now, too. Like others, he was let down by the defense.
The Giants made three more errors -- a fielding error, catcher's interference and a pickoff throw that was thrown away -- and now lead the majors with 16. No other NL team has more than nine.
"We've seen it and it needs to be addressed and needs to be acknowledged. Our defense needs to make plays behind our pitchers in order for them to really see the best possible results of their efforts," manager Gabe Kapler said. "I just don't want to discount that. Again, never singling anybody out, because it's not the right way to think about this. It's a team game, we play team defense, we're all in this together and we've got to figure out a way to correct this and improve this so that when a guy pitches his tail off we reward him."
Gausman's outing was his most promising as a Giant, with 10 fastballs at 97 mph or above and the endurance to match. He said he feels good physically, but Coors is Coors, and you're going to get burned even if you have your firmest heater of the year. Gausman's true Welcome to Coors Field moment came in the sixth, when Nolan Arenado took a slider down-and-in and hit a one iron just over the left field wall. The ball never appeared to get more than about 20 feet off the ground.
"It's not fun, to be honest," Gausman said of those Coors classics. "It's one of those things that makes it unique to this stadium. There's a lot of stuff that's out of your control and you have to try to figure out how to control."
The Giants did a poor job of that for their starter, not just on defense, but in scoring just two runs against German Marquez and the bullpen. That led to a third straight loss overall and the first of the year for Gausman, who has not had the results match his stuff yet. He has 17 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings, but also has allowed 17 hits and nine earned runs.
Gausman said it has been tough to find a routine, but he feels he's getting there, as the fastball readings showed. There are still adjustments, though. Gausman was approached by the home plate umpire early on and warned to stop licking his pitching hand, a habit he has always had. He moistened a spot on his jersey instead, adhering to 2020 MLB guidelines.
That was just another way that this was not at all the way Gausman imagined pitching at Coors Field for the first time. But he still said the experience was "really cool," and he was able to find a silver lining. He didn't have to buy out that section as he once planned. In 2020, he's not even allowed to.
"That helped save me some money at least," Gausman said. "So that's a good thing."