Big night for Gausman

Is Kevin Gauman pitching for his spot in the rotation tonight in the series opener against the Blue Jays?

The Orioles are on the verge of activating Miguel Gonzalez from the disabled list following last night’s start at Double-A Bowie. Gausman could be optioned to create room in the rotation, but what if he turns in another quality start tonight?

Gausman held the Athletics to one run and four hits over seven innings Saturday night for his first major league win as a starter. His fastball hit 99 mph on his final pitch of the sixth. He broke through that wall, leaving the bases loaded, and gave the Orioles another inning to establish a career high. His secondary pitches were good.

A repeat tonight will leave the Orioles with a real interesting decision.

Imagine if Johan Santana hadn’t torn his Achilles and was ready to be activated this month.

A scout from outside the organization raved about Gausman and is rooting for a similar outing tonight, hoping that the kid can establish himself in the majors. He also suggested that the club should put Ubaldo Jimenez in the bullpen and allow him to work through any mechanical issues, with assurances that he’d rejoin the rotation once he’s producing better results.

Not sure the Orioles will take that step with Jimenez, but you tell me who goes if manager Buck Showalter prefers to stay with a five-man rotation.

Asked yesterday if he viewed Gausman only as a starter or possibly as a reliever, Showalter replied, “If he pitches next time like he pitched last time, I view him as a starter. You know what I’m saying?

“I think he’s capable of contributing as both, but one of the reasons why we did not take him in our bullpen is because of where he is right now, so he’s available to pitch as a starter if we have a physical need. But they always control it for the most part. ‘I’d pitch better if you pitched me more.’ Well, pitch better and you’ll pitch more. That’s how it works, so he kind of controls that, as does Miguel.”

By the way, Showalter wasn’t quoting Gausman. That’s just an expression he uses to make his point.

The Toronto bats have gone cold, producing zero runs in three of the last five games and only two yesterday. The Blue Jays have scored 10 runs over its past six games and are batting .202.

Are the Orioles catching them at a good time, or are they due to bust out?

Gausman is making his fifth career appearance against the Blue Jays and his second start. He’s 0-1 with a 6.14 ERA, allowing five earned runs in 7 1/3 innings.

Gausman has some tough acts to follow. The Orioles have allowed one run in their last 27 innings.

The last time that the Orioles permitted one run or fewer over a three-game span was Aug. 4-6, 2012 against the Rays and Mariners. The last time they allowed one run or fewer in a three-game series was Aug. 27-29, 2010 in Anaheim.

Their offense will be challenged with left-hander Mark Buehrle on the mound for Toronto. He’s 10-2 with a 2.04 ERA in 13 starts this season, and his 10 wins lead the majors.

Buerhle held the Orioles to one run over seven innings on April 13 at Rogers Centre. He’s 8-8 with a 3.31 ERA in 22 games (20 starts) against the Orioles and 3-4 with a 4.08 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) at Camden Yards.

Nick Markakis is 18-for-42 (.429) with four doubles and two home runs versus Buerhle. Adam Jones is 10-for-26 (.385) with two doubles and a home run, and Chris Davis is 6-for-16 (.375) with two homers.

J.J. Hardy is 3-for-25 (.120) with a double and home run. Nelson Cruz is 0-for-14.

Cruz hasn’t homered since June 3.

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