Manny Machado hitting a three-run homer . Kevin Gausman pitching seven shutout innings. The Orioles winning in blowout fashion.
Three things Baltimore was counting on happening a lot this season finally occurred in unison Sunday in a 7-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Orioles (40-41) concluded the first half of their schedule with a victory that was particularly special because of the contributions from Machado and Gausman, two key players who have thus far failed to reach their potential.
Machado has 16 home runs and 41 RBIs, decent numbers that don’t quite offset his .217 batting average.
Gausman (5-7) lowered his ERA to 5.61, hardly solid but at least it’s under 6.00 for the first time in nearly a month.
Could this be the start of a positive trend?
“I hope so,” manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s something that has to happen for us to get where we need to get.”
Mark Trumbo also homered and Seth Smith had two RBIs for the Orioles, playing their final home game until July 14.
Gausman gave up two singles, struck out nine and walked two in the finest of his 18 starts this season. It was his second straight scoreless outing; the right-hander blanked Toronto over 5 1/3 innings on Tuesday.
“I feel like I’m throwing the ball well right now, and just got to keep it going,” Gausman said. “I’m looking forward to the second half, knowing I’m the type of guy that gets better as the season goes on. That’s always good.”
Jesus Sucre ended Baltimore’s shutout bid with an eighth-inning homer off Mychal Givens.
Rays manager Kevin Cash watched from the dugout uncomfortably, and not only because Tampa Bay played poorly. Cash fractured his left foot and sprained his left ankle Sunday morning after stumbling on a railroad track while running through the streets of Baltimore.
Cash took a seat on the bench with his foot propped on a pail, rather than manning his usual post near the railing. He sent pitching coach Jim Hickey out to make a pitching change, too, but insisted that the mishap would not hamper his ability to run the team.
He tried to downplay the injury, asking a cameraman not to take a picture of the boot he’s supposed to wear.
Of more concern to Cash was the manner in which Gausman dominated the Rays.
“That’s about as well-pitched of a game that we’ve had against us this year or at least in a long time.”
Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb (6-6) gave up seven runs and six hits over 6 1/3 innings. He was 4-1 with a 2.00 ERA in nine previous appearances against the Orioles.
Baltimore went up 3-0 in the third. After a single, a hit batter and a sacrifice bunt, Cobb fielded a comebacker. He checked the runner at third, then turned and threw wildly to first.
Visibly angry at himself for allowing a run to score, Cobb worsened the situation by serving up an 0-1 pitch to Machado that ended up in the left-field seats.
Trumbo led off the fourth with his 12th home run, and Smith chased Cobb with a two-run double in the seventh.
SS Tim Beckham was back in the lineup after missing Saturday’s game with a sore left ankle. … SS Adeiny Hechavarria was rested after playing successive days within a week of coming off the DL.
After a day off Monday, Tampa Bay opens a two-game series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field. “We’re fortunate we get to play in a lot of cool environments,” said Rays pitcher Chris Archer, who will start Tuesday. “Wrigley is definitely one of them.”
Republished with permission from the Associated Press.