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Kevin Gausman's test of fire

If you really wanted to go there, you could probably make a case that Kevin Gausman’s major league debut was not any more successful than several of the other spot starts that the Orioles have gotten from their minor league call-ups this season.

But you would be missing the point.

It's true that veteran Jair Jurrjens delivered almost identical numbers in his Orioles debut, giving up four runs on six hits over five innings and striking out five, but if there ever was a classic case of comparing apples and oranges, this is it.

Jurrjens knows how to pitch, but he doesn’t have the physical tools that Gausman put on display against the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night. The Orioles’ top 2012 draft choice flashed a 99-mph fastball and held his own against one of the most explosive batting orders in the game. He struggled in his fourth inning of work and gave up a two-run homer in the fifth, but he showed real poise when he got into his first big jam.

The game got ugly after he left, which makes it difficult to look at anything that happened as a real positive. The bullpen blew up in the sixth inning and relinquished whatever momentum had been gained from the series victory over the Yankees and all but assured the Orioles would lose for the ninth time in their last 12 games.

It wasn’t pretty and it certainly took some of the luster off what started out to be a real uplifting display of the Orioles’ young talent. Gausman shut the Jays out for the first three innings and Manny Machado drove in the first two runs of the game with his second double off tough Jays starter Brandon Morrow.

No doubt, there will be many more such displays over the next decade or so, which is something to smile about no matter what else happened on Thursday night.

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