Kevin Gausman will look to make it three straight wins when he takes the mound for the Orioles against the Rays on Wednesday afternoon at Tropicana Field.
The 23-year-old will make his fourth start of the season and first on the road. Gausman, who has allowed two runs over his last two starts combined, has been pitching so well since being called up from Triple-A Norfolk on June 7 that he's got the club going to a six-man rotation, at least temporarily.
"Very seldom do the waters part, and come hell or high water you are pitching every fifth day," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "As long as we think we have the opportunity to win consistently with him as one of the starters, we will do that."
Gausman got the better of the Blue Jays in his last outing, going six innings while allowing one run on five hits.
He's faced the Rays once in his career, taking the loss on June 8 last season when he pitched 4 1/3 innings, giving up eight hits and seven earned runs along with three walks and six strikeouts.
He'll go up against Rays right-hander Alex Cobb, who had one of his better outings of the season in his last start at Houston, giving up one run on three hits while striking out 11 in six innings as he snapped a three-game losing streak. The win moved Cobb to 2-4 on the season with a 3.99 ERA.
"I was more controlled, and that allowed the arm angle to catch up and have a good direction toward my target," Cobb said of his last outing.
Cobb is unbeaten in four career starts against the Orioles, going 3-0 with a 1.73 ERA. He's 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA and 19 strikeouts in two career starts against the Orioles at Tropicana Field.
"I think that the Houston Astros are a younger version of the Baltimore Orioles," Cobb said. "A lot of good hitters with a lot of pop. I think Baltimore is a little bit more experienced. You can't keep repeating the same pitches to them -- they're gonna make adjustments throughout the game.
"So it's something I'll be aware of -- really make sure that I'm not becoming too repetitive in my pitches and being too predictable, because they take notice of those sorts of things.
Rays: Choppers problematic at the Trop
The "Baltimore chop" came into play in Monday night's 5-4 victory over the Orioles, when Nelson Cruz drove home the tying run in the eighth inning with a bases-loaded chopper.
Jerry Sands' two-run pinch-hit home run in the bottom half allowed the Rays to overcome the downside of Monday night's chop, but Rays manager Joe Maddon hopes to eliminate said hops at the Trop.
"We've had a lot of [Baltimore chops]," Maddon said. "It's turning into the Tampa Bay chop or the St. Petersburg chop. We have to figure out a way to get rid of that chop. That's been a part of the game recently for us and that's something we're not used to."
When asked about the cause of the hard pan in front of home plate, Maddon shrugged.
"I don't know if it's a mixture in the dirt," Maddon said. "They've watered it like crazy. But it's played a lot differently this year.
Orioles: Rotation to stay on turn
The Orioles will stay on turn for the upcoming rotation in New York, meaning the team will go with a six-man rotation for now.
"It's not six," said manager Buck Showalter, who has been hesitant to use the term six-man rotation and cautioned reporters it's temporary. "We got the doubleheader coming up [June 27]. We are going to need another pitcher for that day anyway. So that makes it six, I got it."
Coupled with Thursday's off-day, the Orioles will now have two extra days' rest for Ubaldo Jimenez -- who will pitch Friday's series opener in New York -- along with Bud Norris and Chris Tillman.
"I don't know how long we'd be able to stay six in the 'pen, we could use one of the starters in the 'pen too," Showalter said. "We'll see. In a perfect world, we would stay until the doubleheader. But I don't know if we will be able to. The opposition will have a say in that."
Given how well Gausman has pitched in his two starts since being promoted, the Orioles are in an interesting situation, in that the two guys who have been the most inconsistent -- Jimenez and Tillman -- are the only two who do not have Minor League options remaining. While Jimenez will get an extra work day, certain guys, like Norris, could be available as a long man on designated nights in between starts.
Of course, all it takes is one or two short starts to change things.
"If we have to keep our bullpen fresh between now and then we will do it," Showalter said. "Could happen in New York. We got some people eligible to come back that weren't eligible a couple days ago."
• The Rays have started running Spring Training-type drills, like bunt defense and double-play turns, before games. They usually start the refresher drills around the All-Star break, but manager Joe Maddon said the team needs to shore up its fundamentals sooner rather than later.
• Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson made his third rehab start on Tuesday night for Triple-A Durham. He allowed 12 hits and four earned runs over 2 2/3 innings.
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.