TORONTO — It didn’t take long for Kevin Gausman to show why the Baltimore Orioles have such high hopes for their prized right-hander.
In the first inning of his major league debut Thursday night at the Rogers Centre, he baffled veteran Blue Jays hitters on back-to-back at-bats, striking out Edwin Encarnacion looking on a 97 mph inside fastball and then Adam Lind swinging on an 85 mph change-up.
Whether the 22-year-old Gausman’s first game in an Orioles uniform lived up to the monumental hype — he left the game after five innings and trailing by a run after throwing 89 pitches — can be debated, but there’s no doubt the Orioles unveiled something special.
As for the outcome of the Orioles’ 12-6 loss to the Blue Jays in front of an announced 21,466? Not so much.
The Orioles (25-22) have lost seven of their past nine, and the 12 runs they allowed Thursday tied their season high set Friday in a loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. After making just one fielding error in their past 36 games, the Orioles had two Thursday.
Gausman yielded a go-ahead two-run homer to Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia on his second-to-last hitter of the night. Then, after left-hander Troy Patton issued back-to-back walks with two outs in the sixth, right-hander Pedro Strop allowed a grand slam to Encarnacion to break the game open.
As for Gausman, his locker was filled with $300 worth of powered mini doughnuts courtesy of teammate Adam Jones — and his parents and girlfriend watched from the first row behind the Orioles’ dugout. His outing was cut short by a rough fourth inning that tested his mettle.
Leading 3-0, Gausman allowed back-to-back doubles to Lind and Arencibia to open the inning. Brett Lawrie’s bunt rolled just inside the first base line for a hit, and Gausman walked Colby Rasmus to load the bases with no outs. Emilio Bonifacio’s sacrifice fly made it 3-2.
Gausman emerged from the inning with the lead intact, but in the fifth inning Arencibia turned on a first-pitch 96 mph inside fastball with one man on to give the Blue Jays a 4-3 lead. Gausman, ranked the 26th best prospect in the game by Baseball America, relied on a fastball that topped off at 99 mph several times.
— Baltimore Sun