Gausman's volatile season lands on sour note

Gausman's volatile season lands on sour note

PITTSBURGH -- Kevin Gausman seemed to have it figured out, but baseball can fool you that way.

The Baltimore Orioles right-hander, considered a major piece of the club's pitching future, ended his season on the same sour note on which he started, figuring in most of the damage of a 10-1 loss to the Pirates on Tuesday at PNC Park in what was likely his final start.

"Pretty frustrating," Gausman said. "I feel like I'd kind of been getting in a groove lately. To go out there and throw only four innings, not very good."

The first two innings comprised the big problem, a pair of run-scoring doubles to start things off followed by Andrew McCutchen's first career grand slam. Gausman got ahead of two hitters before walking them, preceding McCutchen's shot.

Gausman's line showed four innings and six earned runs, exactly the same number of runs he gave up in his five previous starts.

Eight scoreless innings in his previous start had reduced Gausman's ERA to a season-low 4.61 -- a number that pretty much reflects what kind of year it was.

"Not very good all-around," is how Gausman assessed his season. "Didn't go deep into ballgames, not many quality starts. Obviously, I'm very frustrated."

Gausman was 9-12 in 2016, but lack of run support was partly to blame. He posted a respectable 3.61 ERA. When Chris Tillman was scratched from starting Opening Day, Gausman got the nod. He did OK, two runs allowed in 5 1/3 innings, but the performance bothered him.

"I hadn't been the guy that should have got that right this year," he said.

Things got worse. His ERA stood at an alarming 7.55 on May 3 before it gradually receded.

"Command," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, tersely stating the problem with the Pirates' debacle. "He elevated some balls tonight. Obviously wasn't his best. But he's pitching some good baseball for us. Tonight wasn't one of those.

Showalter on Gausman's control

"He knows what he's got to do to be successful. He knows when it gets out of whack. I think young pitchers at this level learn that just because the results are there sometimes, there's some things you get away with you know you're gonna pay the price for down the road if you don't straighten it out.

"Kevin's shown he's very capable of pitching very solidly at this level."

Bob Cohn is a contributor to MLB.com based in Pittsburgh who covered the Orioles on Tuesday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.