By CHRIS ALTRUDA
(AP) — While Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter appears to have arms to spare for Friday’s doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays, counterpart Joe Maddon is less than thrilled at spending a long day at Camden Yards.
Showalter has been using a six-man rotation for the better part of two weeks, a move that has paid dividends as the Orioles (41-36) continue to tread water in the top half of the AL East. They have won four of five after Wednesday’s 5-4, 12-inning victory over the Chicago White Sox in which Showalter nearly emptied his bullpen and used six relievers.
Kevin Gausman (3-1, 2.74 ERA), who was shuttled to Triple-A Norfolk last week, will be recalled to be the 26th man on the roster per doubleheader rules and start the opener. It was the third trip to Norfolk in six weeks for Gausman, but it was purely a numbers game since the right-hander pitched well when Miguel Gonzalez was injured earlier this month.
Gausman has won three consecutive starts and stifled the Rays in his last outing June 18, allowing five hits and one walk in six innings of a 2-0 win.
“Obviously, Kevin’s pitching real well, and he’ll continue to get that opportunity as long as he’s pitching well,” Showalter told MLB’s official website. “I just wanted them to understand the potential that could happen if we used up our length out of the bullpen (Wednesday).”
The Rays (32-48) will recall Alex Colome (0-0, 4.50) from Triple-A Durham to make his first start and second appearance this season in the first game. He allowed two runs in a four-inning stint against Toronto on May 26 before going 3-1 with a 3.54 ERA in five starts for the Bulls, striking out 27 in 28 innings.
Colome, who is making his fifth appearance overall, has never faced the Orioles.
Baltimore is 7-1 against Tampa Bay this year despite slugger Nelson Cruz – whose eighth-inning grand slam sparked Wednesday’s rally – going 7 for 33 with one homer and three RBIs.
The Rays salvaged a split of their 10-game homestand Wednesday with a 5-1 victory over Pittsburgh.
Maddon groused that the day-night format is not an ideal way to kick off an 11-game road swing, dryly noting to MLB’s website, “It’s a great concept. Have a group get there at 10 o’clock in the morning and finish at 11 o’clock at night. And then play a 4 o’clock game Saturday. That’s just how baseball was meant to be played.”
In the nightcap, Jake Odorizzi (3-7, 4.29) is trying to win consecutive starts for the first time in his career after turning in one of his best starts Saturday. He allowed one hit and two walks while striking out 10 – one off his career high – in 7 1-3 innings of an 8-0 victory over Houston.
“I think I’m starting to get to that point where I feel confidentin what’s going on, in the process and how things are coming out,” Odorizzi told MLB.com. “For the most part. There’s occasional misses. … But locating has been the big key to all of this, and mixing speeds up and down.”
He allowed a two-run homer to Adam Jones and two other hits in 5 1-3 innings against the Orioles on June 16.
Chris Tillman (6-4, 4.45) starts for Baltimore since Bud Norris has tightness in his groin and the day off Thursday kept Tillman on his regular schedule. The right-hander turned in one of his best outings of the season Sunday, outpitching Masahiro Tanaka and limiting the New York Yankees to four hits and four walks in seven innings of an 8-0 win.
“I made some adjustments during my side sessions and I was able to carry them out to the mound with me,” Tillman said.
He did not get a decision versus Tampa Bay on May 6, yielding three runs in six innings of Baltimore’s 5-3 win. Tillman is 2-6 with a 4.86 ERA in 12 starts against the Rays, and Evan Longoria – who homered off him in that game – is 11 for 27 with five homers and two doubles in their matchups.
Tampa Bay has hit .227 and scored 18 runs in the eight games versus Baltimore.
Updated June 26, 2014