Gausman laments tough start after All-Star break

Gausman laments tough start after All-Star break

NEW YORK -- Behind him, the Orioles infield was fielding grounders, and the outfielders were playing catch. There was no batter staring down Kevin Gausman, either. But between innings Monday night at Yankee Stadium, the right-hander just couldn't shake off the rust while tossing warm-up throws to catcher Matt Wieters in his first start after the All-Star break.

"I bounced every breaking ball I threw to Wieters between innings," Gausman said after the Orioles' 2-1 loss to the Yankees in the series opener.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Gausman pitched well, and center fielder Adam Jones agreed. But a bumpy start, in part fueled by an 11-day layoff, proved his undoing. Gausman surrendered just two runs on six hits and one walk in 6 2/3 innings, but received the loss as the Orioles' offense continued to struggle.

Since the start of the second half of the season Friday, the Orioles have scored nine runs in four games.

"If this was the National League, he'd be able to hit. He'd probably go deep and help himself a bit," Jones said.

Gausman certainly could've used the help. Jonathan Schoop answered the second-inning solo shot from Alex Rodriguez with a third-inning dinger of his own to tie the game, but that was all the offense the Orioles mustered.

"I wish I could take back that one pitch, that's really it," Gausman said.

He said he felt better as the game wore on, and the results back that up. Gausman retired 12 batters in a row from the third to the seventh before leaving the game, in an outing Showalter called "impressive."

Showalter said he harbored worries concerning Gausman's command, considering he hadn't pitched since July 6. But aside from the trouble with the breaking balls between innings, Gausman was sharp. He issued just the one walk against six strikeouts, two of which came in his final inning.

"They got into some good sequences with the hitters," Showalter said.

Entering Monday, the Orioles were 28th in the Major Leagues in starters ERA. But at Yankee Stadium, in one of Gausman's best starts of the season, the difference came down to a pop fly

In the third inning with the game knotted at one, Brian McCann sent a shallow fly ball into center field. Jones got under it, stepped forward and fired home. The effort bounced a couple feet short of home plate, allowing Brett Gardner to score easily.

"Even McCann's, he kind of got it just deep enough to get that run in," Gausman said.

With the Orioles' offense making a habit of returning to the dugout empty-handed, it proved just deep enough.

Joshua Needelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York and covered the Orioles on Monday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.