BALTIMORE – Baltimore’s Kevin Gausman has had a very rude introduction to the major leagues, and allowing home runs has been a particularly big problem.
Facing one of the best offenses in baseball doesn’t figure to make his transition any easier.
Gausman tries a third time for his first major league victory Sunday when the Orioles and Detroit Tigers conclude a three-game set at Camden Yards.
In need of a starter with Wei-Yin Chen on the disabled list, the Orioles promoted the highly touted Gausman from Double-A and started him against Toronto on May 23. The 22-year-old right-hander showed flashes of potential in that outing but allowed four runs and seven hits over five innings in a 12-6 loss.
Gausman (0-2, 11.00 ERA) fared far worse against light-hitting Washington on Tuesday, lasting four innings after giving up seven runs – including three homers – and eight hits in a 9-3 defeat.
“Pitching in the big leagues is hard. He’s got the talent to do it and eventually he will,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I look forward to it being next time out. He knows mistakes get magnified here. But it’s part of the process.”
After serving up four homers in nine innings, the Tigers (30-24) would appear to be a terrible matchup for Gausman, but the Orioles kept him on his regular turn instead of pushing his start to Tuesday against Houston.
Detroit and Baltimore are tied for the major league lead with 283 runs, and the Tigers rank first with a .278 batting average.
“That’s something that’s up to them, but obviously it shows that they have a lot of faith in me,” Gausman told the team’s official website. “My confidence is still there and I know that I have the pitches to be there. I just need to be more consistent with them and just try to get better, and just try to attack the bottom half of the zone.”
Exactly what Gausman will have to deal with was on full display Saturday, when Detroit hit a season-high five homers in a 10-3 rout of the Orioles (31-25). Four of those home runs came in a wild fourth inning in which Baltimore starter Jason Hammel was ejected.
Hammel surrendered consecutive homers to Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta and Alex Avila in the frame and was ejected after hitting Matt Tuiasosopo with a pitch.
“I’m not going to make a big deal of it. I hit him with a slider,” Hammel said. “Zero intent there to hit him. Obviously I give up three home runs, but I’m not the guy that answers getting hit around with hitting somebody. That’s bush league if you ask me. It was a mistake. A slider that got away.”
Miguel Cabrera capped the eight-run inning with a grand slam, raising his major league-leading RBI total to 65. He’s batting .436 with six homers and 14 RBIs in his last 10 games at Camden Yards.
Prince Fielder hit his first home run in 21 games for the Tigers, who had lost four in a row.
Baltimore will try to rebound against Rick Porcello (2-2, 5.29), who is coming off one of the best performances of his career. He matched a personal best with eight innings and struck out a career-high 11 in Detroit’s 1-0 loss in 11 innings to Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
The right-hander had posted a 2.89 ERA in his first three starts in May before allowing five runs and 10 hits over five innings against Minnesota on May 23.
Porcello is 1-3 with a 4.50 ERA in five starts against the Orioles, losing his only meeting last season.
Nick Markakis is 6 for 13 with a home run off him.
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