By CHRIS ALTRUDA
(AP) — Kevin Gausman is giving Buck Showalter headaches.
Though they’re the kind managers want as Gausman continues his push for a rotation spot Wednesday when the Baltimore Orioles wrap up their three-game road set with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Gausman (2-1, 3.71 ERA) was called up from Triple-A Norfolk earlier this month when Miguel Gonzalez went on the disabled list with a strained oblique and has made the most of his opportunity entering his third start since his recall.
“Well, he’s done what it takes to be considered,” manager Buck Showalter told the team’s official website. “He’s taking care of his end of it. … Gaus has done, he’s pitched well in his two outings. Just hope he’s starting to grasp what it takes to consistently help this team win.”
The right-hander has allowed two runs and nine hits over 13 innings winning both his outings and limited Toronto to one run in six innings of a 4-2 victory Thursday. He likely will get at least one more start since Showalter may keep a six-man rotation until Baltimore’s June 27 doubleheader versus Tampa Bay.
“I felt good about what I’ve done,” Gausman said when asked about his chances of keeping his spot. “I feel comfortable right now and, like you said, that’s not my decision. Whatever happens is going to be for the club’s best interest.”
The Rays (28-44) hammered Gausman in his lone start against them last year for seven runs and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings as the Orioles lost 8-0 on June 8, 2013. He also allowed a run in a one-inning relief stint in Tampa on Sept. 20.
Gonzalez did just enough in Tuesday’s 7-5 victory for the win in his return, using Chris Davis’ replay-aided grand slam in a five-run third to leave with a lead after giving up four runs in five innings for the Orioles (36-34). Davis has been feast or famine at the plate the last six games, going 4 for 22 with nine strikeouts but also three home runs.
“I was hoping it would be fair and deep enough to where we could get at least one run in. I’ll take a double, but at the same time if I can get a grand slam out of it I’ll take that too,” he said.
Though manager Joe Maddon believes his team can still be a playoff contender if it can reach .500 after 100 games, Tampa Bay took a step back after being denied a third straight victory and will count on Alex Cobb (2-4, 3.99) to build on his last outing. He limited Houston to one run in 6 1-3 innings while striking out a season-high 11 in a 6-1 victory Friday.
“You go borderline crazy after bad starts,” said Cobb, who allowed a season-worst seven runs in losing his prior outing to Seattle. “You start running your mechanics through your mind thousands of times and it keeps you up at night sometimes. It feels good to come out and see that your adjustments paid off.”
It also helped the Rays provided some offense – he got four runs of support after being backed with seven in his previous seven starts.
Cobb has won his last three starts versus Baltimore, conceding four runs while striking out 24 in 21 1-3 innings in that span.
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, who has yet to receive a verdict on the appeal of his five-game suspension, is 0 for 10 lifetime against the right-hander and hitting .183 in 30 career games versus the Rays.