Orioles pitching prospect Kevin Gausman struggled with his control early, but recovered well in 2 2/3 innings of work in his first career spring training start on Thursday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays at Ed Smith Stadium.
Gausman, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 draft, walked the first two batters he faced, including a four-pitch walk to Desmond Jennings to open the game. But he was able to get out of the inning unscathed thanks to two fielder’s choice ground balls and a swinging strike three change-up to former Oriole Luke Scott.
He made quick work of the Rays in the second inning with an 11-pitch frame despite an infield hit to first baseman Chris Davis in which Matt Joyce beat Gausman to the bag covering first. He was quickly helped by a 3-6-1 double play off the bat of James Loney.
Gausman, who threw 57 pitches and 34 strikes, mixed his fastball and change-up combination well, throwing mainly 91-92 mph fastballs -- he reached 96 mph once -- with an off-speed pitch that ranged between 77 to 80 mph.
He struck out catcher Jose Lobaton with a 93 mph fastball after drawing two strikes on back-to-back change-ups to open the third, but issued a two-out walk to Kelly Johnson that would hurt him.
Rays third baseman Evan Longoria then laced a 1-0 92 mph fastball into the left-center field gap to score Johnson and break a scoreless tie. That would be the final batter Gausman faced.
Scott then took Mike Belfiore’s next delivery over the right-center field fence to give the Rays a 3-0 lead. One of those runs was charged to Gausman, who ended his day having allowed two runs on two hits with three walks and two strikeouts.