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Gausman looks strong in his first start

TORONTO -- Kevin Gausman delivered a solid performance in his first start this season, as the Orioles, who evened the series with a 5-3 victory over the Blue Jays on Saturday at Rogers Centre, begin to stretch out the highly-touted right-hander.

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Making his first big league start since Sept. 25, Gausman pitched well in the no-decision. He allowed two runs on four hits and a walk over five innings before being removed after 91 pitches (58 strikes) in his first outing after coming off of the disabled list.

"The biggest difference [in the game] is we got some quality innings out of him against that lineup," manager Buck Showalter said of Gausman, who has pitched just 12 innings for the Orioles so far this season. "We thought it had a chance to be a good matchup with him. We got to keep stretching him out innings-wise. We think he has a chance to be in the rotation next year. There's a newsflash."

Gausman, on the DL with right shoulder tendinitis, began the season as part of the bullpen and went 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in eight games before the injury. He became a starter again during his rehab assignment, pitching in three games before he was activated on Saturday.

After allowing a first-inning run, Gausman got off to a rocky start in the second, hitting Russell Martin and giving up a pair of singles. Toronto took the lead on a wild pitch, but Gausman held firm and stranded a pair of runners to keep the score, 2-1, turning in three scoreless innings afterward.

"I think they were thinking 80-85 [pitches]. I was rolling, so [pitching coach Dave Wallace] said it was good for me to get through those five strong innings," Gausman said. "I felt physically good. Honestly, the most tired I got was running trying to get a foul ball that was over here by first base. It kind of took a while to get back on the mound after that one. I felt physically good. My shoulder feels great -- and now it's just about competing."

Since Gausman hasn't pitched much this season, he will not have to be shut down early. The 24-year-old is expected to remain a starter for the foreseeable future. That involves a different approach than pitching in relief.

"Out of the bullpen, it's, 'Here's my 'A' fastball [throwing] as hard as I can, try to hit it.' Mix in a breaking ball and splitter every now and then. As a starter, you really have to be able to establish your fastball in for strikes -- especially against this lineup," Gausman said. "That was my plan going in, just to bust them in as much as I could -- and I like [that] I got in there a lot. I think that's why I got so many pop flies."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.
Read More: Baltimore Orioles, Kevin Gausman