As Gausman struggles to find command, Blue Jays turn attention to Yankees

At some point during his long mea culpa after his worst start in nearly three years, the urge arose to tap Kevin Gausman on his shoulder and whisper, “Think of how far you’ve come. traveled.”

But it’s 2022 and we — you, me, us, them, the Toronto Blue Jays — aren’t making good ends anymore. Not when the New York Yankees smash their way through the American League East and arrive in your city in 24 hours, looking to extend their divisional lead into double digits four days before the official start of summer.

So when Gausman uses words like ’embarrassment’ and ‘unacceptable’, after going 2 1/3 innings in a 10-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, you stand there and take the pieces with him and agree, then come back and check how the Yankees are doing in their game.

“We’re playing good baseball,” manager Charlie Montoyo said afterwards, accepting an invitation to move on from parting ways with the Orioles to a four-game series and prepare for Friday’s first of three games. night against the Yankees. “It’s the American League East…and it’s going to be like this all year.”

Well, I hope it’s not like this all year. Hopefully someone can put the brakes on the Yankees, who went into Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays with a 46-16 record, the best 62-game record since the Seattle Mariners in 2001 ended up winning. a Major League- record 116 games, the best running differential in the game and – look, if you want to know how good they are, read their damn game notes, okay? The last time the teams met was May 11 in the Bronx, when the Yankees capped a quick two-game sweep with a 5-3 win to move to 22-8 and a four-game lead. on the second-place Tampa Bay Rays.

The Blue Jays were third at 17-15, six games back.

Since then, the Jays have gone strong 18-11 and jumped over the Rays on May 31 to retain second place … but they started nine games Thursday behind the Yankees, who had gone 24-8 before a final of the series against the Rays.

Really? Forget the Yankees now. It’s more about keeping tabs on the hiding Boston Red Sox, who are 24-11 from the start 10-19.

Gausman’s departure – his worst since 2019 – means he will of course miss the Yankees series Instead, the Blue Jays will send Ross Stripling, forced into the rotation by Hyun Jin Ryu’s inefficiency and elbow issues season endings that followed, Alek Manoah … and Yusei Kikuchi, who hasn’t been very good unless he’s playing the Yankees, with a 3.07 ERA and 0.192 opponents against in three departures already this season.

In the long run, the Blue Jays have the same needs as the last time the teams met: a lack of swing and missed tricks in the back of the bullpen (too much trickery; not enough velocity) and the absence of a hard-hitting southpaw. bat. In the shorter term? Their star shortstop, Bo Bichette, pulled out of Thursday’s game to have his foot x-rayed after committing a foul on a field. They were negative, which means “talk to me on Friday”. Their game-changing defensive third baseman who started to find his power shot (Matt Chapman) couldn’t answer the bell because the sore right wrist he injured in the cage batting flared up on a day when center back George Springer was given a scheduled day off.

Bichette’s withdrawal from play meant Santiago Espinal – already a substitute for Chapman – had to go short, which meant Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. finished the game at third base.

The good news? Jeremy Beasley and Matt Gage have spent enough time losing to Gausman and David Phelps that at least the Blue Jays leverage reliever arms, as they are, will be available.

I know, I know: there is a silver lining. The last time Gausman (5-6) gave up seven points in a game was June 15, 2019, when as a member of the Atlanta Braves he was still finding his way around while watching an ERA of 6.17. But at least he trailed for five innings that day, a 7-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. On Thursday, with the roof closed due to the threat of stormy weather, he was out after 2 1/3 innings, having allowed five of the seven earned runs the Orioles had on the board.

It was back when Gausman was looking for something or someone to keep him from becoming just another guy and eventually he found it, to the point where the Blue Jays gave him a $110 million contract. over five years. On Thursday, the search was something else: command and, he acknowledged, energy despite the mid-afternoon crowd of 36,832 buzzing even before the first pitch.

Gausman, at least, didn’t think it was the result of some of the overturning issues that puzzled the Seattle Mariners or even the Orioles’ outcome following the Minnesota Twins’ game plan.

“Then I was throwing the ball well, it’s just that they had a really good game plan against me,” Gausman said. “Today, I did not achieve my goals. I just had nothing today. Simply not acceptable.

It was scary to see how the Orioles 27-37 tore Gausman apart. Seventeen pitches in the third inning. Seven hitters. Two of the seven runs were unearned when Espinal was charged with an error after deflecting a bouncer off the bat from Austin Hays, displacing Cedric Mullins to third. Mullins set the table by picking a 1-0 splitter from Gausman, but the Orioles picked all of his pitches: Putting in three splitters, three four-seam fastballs and a change in play, their six runs scored in the inning tying a high season.

Orioles starter Tyler Wells, meanwhile, hit six innings — the hit being Teoscar Hernandez’s fifth homer of the season — to bring his record to 4-4.

“The command just wasn’t there with my fastball,” Gausman said later. “The command of the split was not there either. I got through the first two sets pretty unscathed and I think I threw the ball well…but I just didn’t really have the energy today to keep going. For some reason I was just really tired there.

“It’s a shame to have put the team in this situation. It’s embarrassing to be honest, to go out and do that against a team that I think we should beat. It might sound bad to say, but I think we should beat them more than we lose to them. Going for a streak win and going out and doing that is unacceptable.

“It sucks,” Gausman said. “It never happens to me, but when it does you feel like crap putting yourself and your team in this situation.”

Yet that’s where Gausman and the Blue Jays met on Thursday. And here are the Yankees, ready to tear your book to shreds let alone allow you to turn the page.

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