Teams still coveting Orioles' young pitching, looking at tonight's matchup

While wondering whether umpire Hal Gibson III and the strike zone should wear name tags and get to know each other...

We're exactly one week away from the non-waiver trade deadline, at which point Orioles manager Buck Showalter will remind us that it's not really a deadline. It just means players must pass through waivers before being dealt. It happens all the time.

Showalter will be amused by the media frenzy that builds over the "deadline." I'd still rank it a notch or two below the nonsense that takes place on the day that teams and players exchange arbitration figures.

gausman-gray-specs-sidebar.jpgAnyway, the Orioles continue to field the same inquiries about their young pitching prospects. They try to talk trade and rival executives want Kevin Gausman. Teams check on the availability of Dylan Bundy, Eduardo Rodriguez and Hunter Harvey. They try to pry an arm or two out of a farm system that's gradually building some depth.

The Rockies are a prime example. The Orioles have maintained a dialogue regarding left-hander Jorge De La Rosa. They're scouting him. They like him. But they aren't giving up Gausman for him and they're certainly not giving up multiple top pitching prospects for him.

"We have a little more depth to our system and people like some of our young starters," said executive vice president Dan Duquette, who won't comment on specific talks. "We like our young starters. They're very valuable. We like the work our scouts have done signing some of these young pitchers. We like the work of our development people who are in the process of helping them develop the skills to be good major league pitchers."

Meanwhile, the Orioles are transitioning tonight from facing the team with the second-highest average in the American League to the team with the second-lowest ERA.

It doesn't get any easier.

Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma has allowed two earned runs or fewer in all four July starts, walking none and striking out 28. He's walked eight and fanned 83 in 15 starts this season.

It doesn't get any easier.

Iwakuma has faced the Orioles once, back on July 2, 2012. He allowed three runs, all of them coming on a Chris Davis homer, and three hits in five innings.

Steve Pearce started in left field that night, so some things haven't changed in two years. But Davis started in right field, Wilson Betemit at third base, Robert Andino at second and Mark Reynolds at first. Jim Thome served as the designated hitter.

A lot has changed in two years.

Davis has a double and home run against Iwakuma. Delmon Young is 2-for-5 with a double and homer.

David Lough most likely will return to the bench tonight, but he's gone 2-for-4 in his last two starts - on June 27 and last night. Showalter won't bury him. Fans shouldn't, either.

Four Mariners are hitting a collective .140/.213/.256 (6-for-43) against left-hander Wei-Yin Chen. Robinson Cano is 5-for-21 (.238) with two doubles, a home run and six strikeouts.

Left-handers are hitting .315 against Chen and right-handers are hitting .276. The splits remain backward.

Chen has failed to complete six innings in four of his last five starts. Showalter removed him after 89 and 86 pitches in his last two outings.

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