BALTIMORE -- In their first game back after the four-day break for the All-Star Game, Kevin Gausman put the Orioles into such a deep hole that even an impressive offensive performance couldn’t lift them out of it.
The right-hander equaled a career-high by allowing eight runs and watched four Chicago Cubs home runs sail out of the ballpark, the most he’s given up in a start, as the Orioles lost to the Cubs 9-8 before 34,335 at Oriole Park, July 14.
While Gausman quickly put the Orioles into a 8-0 hole in the third, the Orioles offense was eventually able to tie the score at eight in the eighth inning, but right-hander Brad Brach surrendered a home run to Chicago shortstop Addison Russell in the ninth.
Before Brach gave up Russell’s home run, the bullpen pitched five shutout innings, allowing just two hits.
The Orioles, who are desperately trying to stay relevant in the wild-card race, have dropped to 42-47, and must have a strong homestand to convince their decision makers that they should add players and not subtract them in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline.
Gausman’s rocky performance was his second straight one. In his last one July 7, Gausman coughed up a 6-0 lead in a game the Orioles lost 9-6 at Minnesota. But, in the two before, he pitched 12.1 shutout innings.
“It’s frustrating. Obviously, I wanted to come out here and hit the ground running going into this second half,” Gausman said. “It was just bad. I kind of became a two-pitch pitcher out there. When you’re a starter trying to do that, some days you can get away with it. Most days you can’t. It was just bad execution.”
For manager Buck Showalter it is especially hard to watch.
“He was missing. Kept waiting for him to get on the horse a little bit and he never got on,” Showalter said. “That was tough. You hate to see anybody struggle like that. They’re a good team, but really, the breaking ball. … just nothing to slow them down and didn’t locate his fastball enough to make some things work for him. Kept waiting for him to hit his stride there, but never did.”
After trailing 8-0, the Orioles scored a run in the third on catcher Welington Castillo’s ninth home run in the third, scored another in the fourth and four more in the fifth to draw to within 8-6.
Entering the game, Showalter adjusted the batting order and elevated center fielder Adam Jones to leadoff for the first time this season.
Jones was 0-for-4, was hit by a pitch, and struck out with two on and two outs to end the seventh.
Designated hitter Mark Trumbo’s 15th home run of the year tied it in the eighth.
According to ESPN, teams that trail by eight runs during a game are just 1-186 this season.
“You have to do a lot. You get three or four runs, and you still have to double it to get back in some of these games,” Trumbo said. “It really tests the willpower a little bit.”
Trumbo, who has hit more consistently of late, knows the team has to win the majority of the nine games against Chicago, the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros that remain on the homestand.
“We need to play good baseball, obviously win, but show some of the signs of life that we did tonight,” Trumbo said. “We did everything we could for it to go our way, but they just did a little bit better.”
NOTES: To make room for first baseman Chris Davis, who was activated from the 10-day disabled list, the Orioles outrighted outfielder Craig Gentry to Triple-A Norfolk.
- Showalter said that he hopes that infielder Ryan Flaherty (shoulder) will be ready for a rehab assignment in the next five to seven days.
- Left-hander Wade Miley (4-7, 4.97) faces right-hander Jake Arrieta (8-7, 4.35) July 15. It will be Arrieta’s first time pitching in Baltimore since his July 2013 trade to Chicago.
- The game was delayed by rain 49 minutes. Rain delays this season have totaled seven hours, 56 minutes.