The Baltimore Orioles have used the most starters in baseball.
Now, they're turning to one of their top prospects, and they expect it to be a long-term solution.
Kevin Gausman is set to make his major league debut Thursday night when the visiting Orioles open a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Baltimore (25-21) has used 10 starters already, two shy of its total from last year.
With Wei-Yin Chen (strained right oblique) on the disabled list, the Orioles are about to make the 22-year-old Gausman their latest starter.
The fourth overall pick out of LSU in the 2012 draft, Gausman was 2-4 with a 3.11 ERA in eight starts with Double-A Bowie. The right-hander had 49 strikeouts and only five walks in 46 1-3 innings.
"He has the best stuff and the most consistent control of just about any pitcher that we have in the organization, so we thought employing his strength for our major league team was the way to go," general manager Dan Duquette said. "The future is now. He's throwing strikes with three pitches. He does that consistently. And he has excellent control."
Despite his inexperience, the Orioles are expecting Gausman to remain in the rotation, envisioning him as another Manny Machado , who has become a fixture at third since being recalled from Bowie as a 19-year-old in August.
Machado leads Baltimore with a .322 average this year.
"Obviously, it's going to be really exciting," Gausman said. "I try and not think about it too much. Just go out there and keep doing what you're doing and throw strikes."
Gausman is also trying to help the Orioles to a third straight win following a season-high six-game slide.
The offense has keyed the last two victories, connecting for three homers in each contest, including Wednesday's 6-3 win over the New York Yankees .
While Baltimore ranks among baseball's leaders with 59 home runs, the team didn't have any while taking two of three from Toronto (19-27) at home April 22-24.
The Orioles hit 13 while going 4-5 at Rogers Centre last year.
Chris Davis is a .373 hitter with seven doubles, three homers, nine RBIs and 10 runs in 15 career visits to Toronto. He enters this series coming off a 4-for-4 performance Wednesday, which included his league-leading 14th homer.
Davis, however, is 0 for 11 with seven strikeouts since 2011 versus Brandon Morrow , the Blue Jays' scheduled starter.
Toronto won for the fifth time in six home games Wednesday, rallying for a 4-3 victory in 10 innings over Tampa Bay. Jose Bautista drove in all of the Blue Jays' runs, going 4 for 4 with two homers and a 10th-inning single.
The right fielder, though, is 3 for 36 with a solo home run over his last 11 meetings with Baltimore.
Morrow (1-3, 5.16 ERA) is looking to improve on his first start since returning from back and neck soreness.
The right-hander was victimized by the long ball Saturday, as four of the five runs he allowed came on two homers over five innings in 7-2 loss at Yankee Stadium.
"I thought (Morrow) threw the ball really well, he really did," manager John Gibbons told the team's official website. "And then, of course, a couple of big home runs. But that's a good sign, he looked healthy. He shouldn't have any more thoughts about that, I don't think."
Morrow didn't get a decision in his most recent meeting with the Orioles, allowing four runs with three walks in 6 1-3 innings of a 6-5 win April 24.
He's 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA over his last two home meetings.
|May 13, 2013||Wei-Yin Chen||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|May 12, 2013||Nolan Reimold||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|May 12, 2013||Wei-Yin Chen||Day-to-Day||Right oblique strain|
|May 04, 2013||Miguel Gonzalez||15-Day DL||Right thumb blister|
|May 04, 2013||Miguel Gonzalez||15-Day DL||Right thumb blister|
|May 03, 2013||Chris Davis||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee soreness|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|May 11, 2013||Rajai Davis||15-Day DL||Strained oblique|
|May 10, 2013||Rajai Davis||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained oblique|
|May 08, 2013||J.A. Happ||15-Day DL||Head contusion|
|April 29, 2013||Josh Johnson||15-Day DL||Right triceps inflammation|
|April 22, 2013||Maicer Izturis||Day-to-Day||Sore hamstring|
|April 14, 2013||Sergio Santos||60-Day DL||Right triceps strain|
TORONTO (AP) -- With his first major league start in the books, Kevin Gausman was looking forward to a good night's rest.
Edwin Encarnacion hit his fifth career grand slam, J.P. Arencibia homered and drove in four runs and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Baltimore 12-6 on Thursday night, spoiling Gausman's Orioles debut.
"Definitely a learning experience for me but it was awesome," Gausman said. "It was everything I could have imagined and more.
"I've been waiting my entire life for this," he added. "I haven't been able to sleep very much lately. That was something that was kind of great to get out of the way. Hopefully I can sleep tonight."
The fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft, Gausman allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings. The right-hander walked two and struck out five.
"He gave us a chance to win against a team swinging the bat as hot as anybody," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I thought he handled himself the way you'd like to see a young pitcher handle himself. He's only going to get better."
The youngest starter in the AL at 22 years and 137 days, Gausman showed some veteran composure in the third, loading the bases with none out before retiring the next three batters.
"His changeup was a big pitch for him tonight and he was able to use it in some key situations," catcher Matt Wieters said. "The slider was there if we needed it, too.
"That's a good hitting team and a good hitting fastball team and he was able to make some balls miss some barrels," Wieters added.
Even Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was impressed.
"He's got a great arm," Gibbons said. "He pitched with good composure. He looks like he belongs out there. For a debut he did a heck of a job."
Promoted from Double-A Bowie to face Toronto, Gausman learned that big league hitters are a cut above the opponents he's been facing.
"I threw a great changeup 3-2 to (Colby) Rasmus and he just kind of spit on it," Gausman said. "At this level, those guys are so good it's kind of crazy."
Gausman (0-1) is the 11th pitcher to start for Baltimore this year. The Orioles used 12 starters all of last season.
Baltimore's Chris Davis hit his major league leading 15th home run, a leadoff shot in the fourth. Nick Markakis and Adam Jones hit back-to-back homers off Brandon Morrow to start the eighth but it wasn't enough for the Orioles, who lost for the seventh time in nine games.
Baltimore's Manny Machado went 3 for 4 with three doubles, boosting his major league-leading total to 21.
Morrow (2-3) allowed six runs and a season-high 10 hits in seven-plus innings. He walked one and struck out five.
"It's frustrating for me to go out give up the two home runs without getting an out there in the eighth," Morrow said. "It's a good win, but it put a sour taste in my mouth."
Brett Cecil and Brad Lincoln each worked one inning of scoreless relief as Toronto won for the third time in four games.
Machado gave the Orioles an early lead with a two-run double in the third. Davis made it 3-0 by homering on Morrow's first pitch of the fourth, but the Blue Jays rallied with two runs off Gausman in the bottom half. Adam Lind and Arencibia led off with consecutive doubles and Emilio Bonifacio hit a sacrifice fly.
Arencibia put the Blue Jays in front with a two-out, first-pitch drive in the fifth for his 11th homer.
Troy Patton was replaced after issuing back-to-back two-out walks in the sixth. Pedro Strop came on and walked Jose Bautista before Encarnacion homered off the left field foul screen, Toronto's first grand slam this season.
Five of the eight walks issued by Baltimore pitchers came around to score.
"You like your chances when you score six but not when you walk that many people," Showalter said.
After Alexi Casilla hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh, Markakis hit his fifth home run in the eighth and Jones followed with his seventh. It's the third time this season the Orioles have hit consecutive homers.
Toronto put it away with four runs off T.J. McFarland in a bat-around eighth. Anthony Gose scored from second on a passed ball after Wieters threw to second, Arencibia hit an RBI grounder, Brett Lawrie singled home a run and Rasmus hit a sacrifice fly.
Left fielder Nate McLouth tumbled into the stands after running into the wall in foul territory while retiring Rasmus for the first out of the sixth. Fans tried to indicate that McLouth had dropped the ball, but third base umpire Manny Gonzalez ruled it an out. After the play, a fan in the second deck threw a drink at McLouth, bringing Showalter out for a discussion with the umpires.
Both Showalter and McLouth downplayed the incident.
"It just kind of startled me for a second," McLouth said. "I'm not really sure how close it landed. That's just one person doing something they shouldn't do."
NOTES: The Blue Jays are 15-0 when scoring five runs or more. ... Jones, who has been bothered by a sore groin, made his third straight start at DH. Jones played 162 games last year and has yet to miss a game this season. ...Toronto will promote LHP Sean Nolin from Double-A to make his major league debut Friday against the Orioles. RHP Chad Jenkins will start Sunday. ... To clear a roster spot for Gausman, the Orioles optioned RHP Jake Arrieta to Triple-A Norfolk and designated RHP Alex Burnett for assignment. ... A moment of silence was held before the game in memory of scout Epy Guerrero, who died Thursday at 71. ... Former Blue Jays infielder Homer Bush threw out the first pitch. ... Showalter celebrated his 57th birthday.