ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Orioles began Monday night’s game about an hour after the news that the team had surprisingly optioned Ryan Flaherty, their only backup infielder to Norfolk.
Flaherty was sent down to make room for Kevin Gausman, who was activated after beginning the season on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis.
While the Orioles were understandably nervous to be without a capable infielder in case of injury, they were excited to have Gausman back.
Gausman pitched very well, and his fastballs regularly touched 100 mph.
As well as he pitched, the Orioles failed to hit for the second straight game and lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 2-0 before 12,996 at Tropicana Field.
Gausman was excited, perhaps a bit too excited.
“Honestly, it felt like I hadn't pitched in years. At times I had to step off the mound and refocus and try to tell myself to calm down,” Gausman said.
Through four innings, Gausman (0-1) allowed two hits and struck out six.
His problems came in the fifth. After Brad Miller struck out, Steve Souza walked, and with two outs, Curt Casali doubled to score Miller. Gausman hit Logan Forsythe and walked Steve Pearce, but escaped further damage when Evan Longoria flied to right.
“At times I tried to throw a little too hard and not focus on hitting my spots. Also, I threw some great breaking balls that they just kind of didn’t bite at,” Gausman said.
Manager Buck Showalter was pleased with what he saw.
“That’s kind of the guy we’ve been missing…We’ll see next start. He had a lot of adrenaline I’m sure. Not always get to go through those programs building up before you get to the end game. Now the end game is September and October, hopefully,” Showalter said.
The Orioles (11-7) had a run on four hits on Sunday and were shut out for the first time this season.
Chris Archer had lost each of his first four starts, including a 6-1 decision to the Orioles on Apr. 8.
He limited the Orioles to five hits in 6 2/3 innings. Archer (1-4) struck out 10 and walked none.
Before the game, Showalter remarked that Pedro Alvarez, who entered the game with a .108 average, had the best batting practice he’d seen him have since signing with the Orioles last month.
“There’s some guys I haven’t seen yet. Obviously, you have to start to learn some of these guys’ tendencies. You can watch all the film and video you want, but it’s different when you’re standing in there, so any opportunity I get to go up there, I’m just trying to take as much from every pitch I see and I still have a whole lot to experience,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez had two doubles off Archer, and nearly had his first home run in the fourth. Mark Trumbo and Adam Jones had singles off Archer.
Matt Wieters singled in the seventh, and with two outs, Enny Romero replaced Archer, who retired Alvarez on a pop to Pearce at first.
Brian Matusz replaced Gausman in the sixth, and he loaded the bases on two walks and a single with two outs. Vance Worley hit Casali to give Tampa Bay (9-10) a 2-0 lead.
Erasmo Ramirez retired all four batters he faced. Xavier Cedeno retired Chris Davis on a short fly to center, and Alex Colome got the final out for his fourth save.
NOTES: Showalter said the decision to send Flaherty down wasn’t an easy one.
“There’s a lot of factors. Nothing that Ryan didn’t do. It’s kind of where we are with the pitching. Want to keep some length,” Showalter said. “Not sure what Gaus was going, how many innings and pitches. You want to cover in case he has a problem the first time back. You don’t want to send a starter out. There’s just a lot of moving parts. We thought that from a club standpoint for a few days it was the best way to cover our needs.”
-Jimmy Paredes will begin a rehab assignment at Bowie on Tuesday. Paredes, who was with the club on Monday, said that his injured left wrist, which he hurt early last month, felt better.
“I’m good. I’m excited. I want to get back. It’s hard to be in [extended spring training]. I feel good because I feel right. I feel like my wrists are better. I can do a lot of movement that I couldn’t do before,” Paredes said.
He’s scheduled to play for the Baysox on Tuesday and Wednesday, play for Frederick Thursday, and then rejoin Bowie in Harrisburg this weekend.
-Trumbo has a 10-game hitting streak. His career best is a 12-game run from Aug. 29-Sept. 10, 2015.
-Ubaldo Jimenez (1-1, 3.71) faces Jake Odorizzi (0-1, 3.97) on Tuesday night.