The first game of Monday’s doubleheader between the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles certainty didn’t lack any drama, especially involving the umpire crew.
After Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman reached base on a 74.1-m.p.h. single in the fourth inning, right-hander Kevin Gausman prepared to face Anthony Santander when he was called for a balk - just his second of the season - by umpire Jeff Nelson.
As you might expect, Gausman wasn’t pleased with the call and immediately voiced his displeasure to Nelson before Bo Bichette ran in to separate the two, saving his pitcher from being ejected. That didn’t stop the 31-year-old pitcher from pleading his case, though.
Once Gausman calmed down, the veteran righty found his grove again, striking out the next three batters he faced. He went on to register five more outs before his day concluded after 6.2 innings.
Thanks to seven runs of support, Gausman earned his 11th victory of the season, improving his season ERA to 3.12. It ended up being another strong performance from the 6-foot-2 hurler, albeit one that featured a very frustrating sequence.
The fourth-overall selection from 2012 was asked about the questionable balk call after Game 1 of the doubleheader, explaining that he believes the decision by Nelson was premeditated, prompting his fiery reaction.
Kevin Gausman on Jeff Nelson's balk call on this pitch in the fourth inning: "I just felt like Jeff, for whatever reason, wanted to make that call and went into the game knowing that he was going to make that call. And that's unfortunate." pic.twitter.com/FCC4pUFJLP
— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) September 5, 2022
Gausman also noted that he’s been warned about not coming to a complete stop in the past, however, those conversations have usually occurred in between innings. This time around, though, he didn’t even receive a warning beforehand.
Another bizarre aspect of the situation is that Gausman’s delivery looked completely similar all game long. And the pitcher said as much post-game, admitting that he didn’t alter his mechanics throughout the contest.
That remains true after viewing multiple before-and-after clips of when the 2021 All-Star was called for a balk. From every angle, it appears he did pause briefly before delivering a pitch to Santander.
Pitch on the left: ruled a balk by Kevin Gausman.
Pitch on the right: the next pitch. 🧐 pic.twitter.com/Z10EYaqGoP
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) September 5, 2022
Luckily, Gausman didn’t allow Nelson’s decision to derail his crucial performance against the Orioles, leading the Blue Jays to a much-needed 7-3 victory. The win allowed his club to gain ground in the standings against a team chasing them in the wild-card race.
The hard-throwing righty, who signed a five-year, $110-million contract with Toronto last winter, has been phenomenal all season. He had been worth a career-best 5.1 fWAR entering Monday's contest.
If there’s anything to take away from this situation, it’s that you never want to be on Gausman’s bad side when he’s on the mound.
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