"He didn't have a feel for his offspeed pitch early," manager Buck Showalter said after the 2-1 win over the Blue Jays. "He didn't. They were talking about it in the dugout -- then he got a feel for it about the fourth inning and really made it part of the repertoire. So he pitched with fastball command, and that's been the difference in him the past couple months where he's really turned his year around."
That fastball, which averaged 94.5 mph but topped out at 97.2 mph as Gausman mixed his velocities, kept the right-hander afloat long enough to bring his secondary pitches along. He'd love to have every pitch working right out of the gates, of course, but Wednesday showed his ability to take live feedback and tinker on the fly.
"Early on I kind of threw some floaters in there," Gausman said. "Kind of hit [Jose] Bautista on a bad breaking ball. It kind of seems like that's always how my starts go. If I can stay in there long enough to figure it out, I'm usually going to be able to figure it out."
Even with a final line of seven innings with just one run allowed, Gausman fell victim to some soft contact that found holes in the Baltimore defense. Richard Urena's RBI double, which brought home Toronto's only run of the game, was a flare to the opposite field that left his bat at just 67.2 mph before falling just out of Trey Mancini's reach. In the fourth, Kendrys Morales and Kevin Pillar both singled on balls with exit velocities below 80 mph that were placed correctly.
Over Gausman's last 15 outings, he's allowed one earned run or less nine times, and the Orioles have gone 8-1 in those games. There have been some difficult outings along the way, of course, but these timely performances are what the Orioles have needed. Especially with a losing streak that lingered too long.
Showalter gave full credit to Gausman for that midseason turnaround. After sitting with a 6.60 ERA near the halfway point on June 16, the 26-year-old has since dropped it to 4.83 at a time when his team needs impactful starting pitching from anywhere it can get it.
"He doesn't let things snowball," Showalter said. "It's been a challenge for him. It's like Manny [Machado]. You go through some of the challenges he went through the first part of the year, you've got two choices to make and he made the choice that he wants to figure it out and compete."
Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.