MINNEAPOLIS -- Kevin Gausman has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dismal season for the Baltimore Orioles, who bring the worst record in baseball to Target Field on Saturday as they continue a four-game series with the Minnesota Twins.
Gausman takes the mound with a 2.76 ERA in his last five outings and is fresh off perhaps one of his best starts of the year. He held the Los Angeles to one run and two hits and didn't walk a batter in eight innings on July 2 for his first victory since May 11 -- a span of nine starts -- and is now 4-6 with a 4.05 ERA this season.
"I felt like early on in the season, I kind of put together a little bit better of a month, but I feel like I'm throwing the ball well," Gausman said. "I feel really good in my delivery, and ever since I went hands over the head,
"I feel like this has just been night and day, able to command the ball and really all my off-speed pitches. That's the key word -- consistency. You're always trying to be the same guy every five days."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter thinks Gausman's success this season is overlooked in part because of the team's record, but also because of the competition he has faced.
"I don't chuckle or eye-roll or any of that stuff," Showalter said. "When I hear people kind of negative, Kevin has cut his teeth in the American League East and he's kind of a good hardened to it. This guy doesn't dwell around too much on successes and failures."
Success has been hard to come by for the Orioles lately and failure has been plentiful.
Baltimore's loss Friday night in Minnesota extended its losing streak to four games. The Orioles have dropped 11 of their last 12 games and 22 of their last 27 overall while winning only two in their last seven series.
They'll try to turn that around Saturday against Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson, who has been the poster child for lack of run support this season.
He has allowed more than three runs in a game just once since May 18 -- a span of eight starts -- but has taken the victory just twice. In the six other games, the Twins have averaged just 1.8 runs.
Gibson hasn't let the tough luck get to him.
"We'll start being on the right side of these games," Gibson said. "We've just been running into some pitchers throwing the ball well and caught a couple tough breaks offensively."
His last two starts haven't been among his best. He allowed a season-high five runs and 11 hits against the White Sox on June 27 in Chicago and the Milwaukee Brewers followed by tagging him for four (three earned) in five innings earlier this week in Milwaukee.
Saturday will mark Gibson's ninth career start against the Orioles. In the eight previous meetings, he's 3-2 with a 5.06 ERA.
He faced them once already this season, throwing six no-hit innings with six strikeouts on March 31 in Baltimore.