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BAL@TB: Gausman dominates in win over Rays

Joe Maddon is no fan of the split doubleheader, but his opinion doesn't matter in this case. The Rays will have to play one anyway on Friday.

Tampa Bay and Baltimore will open a four-game set with a game at 1:05 p.m. ET on Friday, with the second game scheduled for 7:05 ET. The early game is a makeup from a rainout on April 15.

"Love them," Maddon said of split doubleheaders, his words laced with sarcasm. "It's a great concept. Have a group get there at 10 o'clock in the morning and finish at 11 o'clock at night. And then play a 4 o'clock game [Saturday]. That's just how baseball was meant to be played."

In the first game, 25-year-old Alex Colome will start for Tampa Bay against Kevin Gausman, the Orioles' first-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft.

Gausman has been exceptional in four starts this season, posting a 2.74 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. He's spent the past week in the Minor Leagues because Baltimore needed a reliever -- Brad Brach in this case -- but teams are allowed a 26th player in a doubleheader.

"Obviously, Kevin's pitching real well, and he'll continue to get that opportunity as long as he's pitching well," manager Buck Showalter said. "I just wanted them to understand the potential that could happen if we used up our length out of the bullpen last night."

Colome, meanwhile, will make his first start and second appearance of the season. He's posted a 3.00 ERA and .245 batting average against in eight Minor League starts. Colome made three starts for the Rays in 2013, going 1-1 with a 2.25 ERA.

In the second game, Baltimore sends Chris Tillman against Jake Odorizzi. Bud Norris, who was supposed to start, has been limited by right groin tightness, and with an off-day Thursday, the Orioles were able to swap in Tillman on regular rest. Tillman is 6-4 with a 4.45 ERA in 16 starts this season.

Odorizzi has fared well in his past three outings -- including one against Baltimore -- allowing just three runs and seven hits over 20 innings. He has fanned 20 and walked five over that span.

That's a vast improvement from early in the season. Odorizzi posted a 6.85 ERA and allowed a .330/.394/.479 slash line in April.

"I think I'm starting to get to that point where I feel confident in what's going on, in the process and how things are coming out," Odorizzi said. "For the most part. There's occasional misses. Everyone's human. But locating has been the big key to all of this, and mixing speeds up and down."

Rays: Improvement needed on the road
Tampa Bay is 16 games below .500. Nearing the halfway point in the season, Maddon knows things need to change quickly.

"We definitely are plastered against the wall. We don't have our backs against the wall," Maddon said. "So we've got to really turn this thing around quickly."

The Rays wrapped up a 10-game homestand with a 5-1 win over the Pirates on Wednesday, and they will now hit the road for 11 contests. Tampa Bay has won just two of its past 11 road games and is 13-23 away from Tropicana Field.

"Offensively, just being able to be a little more consistent with runners in scoring position," Maddon said, when asked what needs to improve. "The double play has been our enemy. We have to make it our friend -- meaning that we need to do it defensively, not offensively. All of those things have to occur. I'm still very hopeful and optimistic about it."

Orioles: Machado hopes to be available Friday
The hearing for the appeal of Manny Machado's five-game suspension was held Wednesday afternoon. Within days, an announcement will be made on the ruling, so Showalter is hopeful it won't be before the Friday's doubleheader.

"It went good, we had a good case," said Machado, who was joined by his agent and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette in meeting with MLB's vice president of standards and on-field operations Joe Garagiola Jr. "We said what we had to say, both sides of the table. Now, hopefully, it goes down."

Major League Baseball suspended Machado for his role in a benches-clearing incident in an 11-1 loss to Oakland on June 8. After consecutive inside pitches from A's reliever Fernando Abad, he threw his bat toward third base on a swing, which created the situation.

"We obviously had a bunch of conversations about how we're going to approach this," Machado said of Wednesday's appeal. "I think we have a pretty good fight to go up. That's a lot of games. Five games could maybe cost us the playoffs."

Worth noting
• Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan and shortstop Yunel Escobar both missed Wednesday's series finale against the Pirates. Hanigan had a stiff neck and was a late scratch for Tuesday's game, while Escobar left Tuesday's game in the eighth inning with a sore right shoulder. Both are expected to be back in the lineup on Friday.

• Jose Molina's RBI double in the fifth inning of Tuesday night's game was his first extra-base hit since Sept. 23, 2013, against the Orioles. That ended a career-high and club-record streak of 45 games without an extra-base hit.

• The Rays swept a doubleheader from the Red Sox on May 1. The Orioles took two from the Pirates in a twin bill on the same day.

• The Orioles have won seven of eight games against the Rays this season.

• After hitting 13 homers in May, Nelson Cruz's grand slam in Wednesday's 5-4, 12-inning victory over the White Sox was his fourth homer in June. Comments