Prior to Thursday's game against the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Kevin Gausman had enjoyed a mostly terrific start to the 2023 season. The 32-year-old carried a 2.33 ERA into the matchup with an American League-best 9.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio through his first six appearances.
Quite simply, he looked like the Cy Young contender Blue Jays fans have come to expect.
But even the best pitchers in baseball can run into tough outings, and that's exactly what happened to Gausman at Fenway Park. The Red Sox teed off on the right-hander, hanging eight runs and 10 hits on him before Toronto manager John Schneider gave him the hook after 3.1 innings. Gausman saw his ERA balloon to 3.86 in the process.
The veteran hurler gave credit to the Red Sox for their patient approach but was also very critical of the way he pitched in the 11-5 loss, as Boston finished off a four-game sweep and sent the Jays to their fifth straight defeat.
"The key to their success was to put the ball in play, extending at-bats... doing a good job of laying off good pitches, and forcing me to get into the strike zone," Gausman told reporters, per Sportsnet's Hazel Mae. "On my part, just unacceptable."
Despite his excellent start to the year, it was Gausman's second disastrous appearance of the young season. He was roughed up for eight runs in 4.2 innings against the Houston Astros on April 17 but didn't allow an earned run in four of his other five starts entering Thursday.
Gausman still feels like he's "grinding" through some of his outings and is searching for what the issue might be.
Kevin Gausman called tonight's start "unacceptable"
He's still feeling like every other start is "a grind" for him, and continues to search for why that's happening physically. #BlueJays
— Keegan Matheson (@KeeganMatheson) May 5, 2023
From a team standpoint, Toronto is left licking its wounds heading into a weekend series with the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates and will need more from its starting pitching staff. The bullpen logged a heavy workload in Boston, as none of the starters managed to complete six innings in the latest turn through the rotation.
The Blue Jays will likely have a fresh arm on the way from triple-A Buffalo on Friday after reliever Zach Pop exited Thursday's game with hamstring discomfort.