The Baltimore Orioles turn to one of their top pitching prospects on Thursday, as Kevin Gausman makes his big league debut in the opener of a four-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Gausman, the fourth overall pick of the O's in last year's draft, was 2-4 with a 3.11 ERA in eight starts this season for Double-A Bowie. However, he struck out a career-high 10 batters in his last start on Friday.
"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 becomes the Orioles' major league-leading 11th different starter this season. He is taking the spot of righty Jair Jurrjens, who was optioned on Tuesday after allowing four runs in his only start of the year.
"I don't think it really hit me until today, until my second flight here from Atlanta," Gausman said. "Then I just kind of was thinking, you know, 'Wow, I'm really here. It's crazy.'"
Baltimore enters this series on a high note after taking the final two games of its three-game set with the New York Yankees. On Wednesday, Chris Davis went 4-for-4 and was one of three Orioles players to homer in a 6-3 win.
Davis topped Nick Markakis' solo blast in the bottom of the first inning with a two-run shot later in the frame, while Matt Wieters tacked on a three-run homer later on to help Baltimore, which had lost six in a row before winning on Tuesday.
"Any time a division rival comes in you want to win the series," Davis said. "We were able to get back on track."
Wieters, Adam Jones and Manny Machado each collected two hits to back 6 2/3 solid innings from Jason Hammel (6-2), who held the Yankees to a pair of runs while striking out six.
Toronto, meanwhile, needed extra innings to win its series with Tampa Bay on Wednesday, as Jose Bautista homered twice and later singled in the winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning to carry the Blue Jays to a 4-3 victory.
"Any time you win a series, it's big," said Bautista. "We're ready to go with some momentum against the Orioles. We just have to keep the energy up and hope for the best."
Toronto, which has won six of nine, will turn to righty Brandon Morrow, who is 1-3 with a 5.16 ERA. Morrow lost in New York on Saturday, as the Yankees reached him for five runs and seven hits in five innings.
The thing about Brandon, he's got dominating stuff," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "When he's on, he can shut you down. We feel good any time he steps on the mound, too."
Morrow has faced the Orioles 17 times (10 starts) and is 3-3 with a 4.05 ERA.
Baltimore took two of three from the Jays earlier in the year.