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Orioles notes: Kevin Gausman likely will get one more 2017 start Sunday at Tampa Bay

PITTSBURGH — As the Orioles play out this losing season, manager Buck Showalter is still taking many factors into consideration when selecting the starting pitchers for the team's final series at Tampa Bay this weekend.

As part of that, right-hander Kevin Gausman — who presumably made his final 2017 start Tuesday night in Pittsburgh — will likely receive one more start in Sunday's season finale against the Rays at Tropicana Field.

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Gausman was battered for six runs over four innings in the Orioles' 10-1 loss to the Pirates on Tuesday, and Showalter said he'd like to see Gausman go into the offseason with a better taste in his mouth.

Over his previous 12 outings, Gausman had compiled a 2.26 ERA and held hitters to a .225 batting average.

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"I know I'd like for him to finish the season on a little more positive note than that one, but Tampa [Bay] might not allow him to either," Showalter said. "And we look at what we can benefit [from it], what would be best for the organization for Saturday and Sunday to happen. That's really where we start with it when we decide who's going to pitch."

Gausman's innings total is 179 2/3, which is his total from last year, only with three more starts this season, indication that he's gone deep into games much less often. Gausman's 33 games started are tied for the most in the American League.

Sunday would be Gausman's day to start on regular rest, but the club considered giving some of its younger arms a deeper look in the season's final week.

That could happen Saturday night. Showalter hasn't announced a starter for that game, but the likely finalists for that spot are right-handers Miguel Castro and Mike Wright.

It's been tempting for the Orioles to glimpse Castro in a starter's role, and he could be an internal candidate to fill a rotation spot next year. But the team has been hesitant to give him a start because he's been so valuable in his current multiple-inning bullpen role and the Orioles didn't want to hurt his mojo.

Castro's 87 1/3 innings this season are the most he's thrown as a professional, and his 46 2/3 innings in the second half of this season are the most thrown by any major league reliever.

Wright hasn't made a start since Sept. 1 and hasn't made a big league start this season, but he's a known commodity who made the Opening Day rotation in 2016.

"There's a lot of factors involved, whether you're contemplating a Tanner Scott or a [Miguel] Castro or a [Mike] Wright or a [Ubaldo] Jiménez or a [Chris] Tillman," Showalter said. "Those [pitchers] are all [options], so at the end of the day, what is our best look?"

Left-hander Wade Miley is scheduled to start Friday night's series opener, Showalter said.

The Orioles haven't announced it yet, but new safety is in the works for Oriole Park.

Álvarez receives rare start at first base

Pedro Álvarez — making his first return to Pittsburgh, where he was a first-round draft pick and spent his first six big league seasons — made his first start this season at first base Wednesday night, going 2-for-4 with a run scored.

Álvarez, who was added to the Orioles' expanded roster Sept. 1 with his bat solely in mind, hadn't made a big league start in the field since playing third base Aug. 20, 2016, though he started 52 times at first with Triple-A Norfolk this season.

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Álvarez was seen doing early defensive work at first base before the Orioles took batting practice Wednesday. He took simulated short-hop throws and ground balls hit off a fungo bat from infield coach Bobby Dickerson.

Álvarez entered the night 6-for-21 with the Orioles this season.

"I think Pete, through the season and what he's been through at Triple-A, this is big place in his life, and the memories and stuff," Showalter said. "People like him here. I can tell how he must have treated people here. … I was trying to pick a spot for him last night but [Pirates reliever Steven] Brault really didn't cooperate. … Pete played first base pretty well down in Norfolk and he's been swinging the bat pretty well for us. Just kind of try to run some people out there that we want to see."

Kevin Gausman struggled to put hitters away Tuesday, and that led to a short outing in Pittsburgh.

Around the horn

Shortstop Tim Beckham (hamstring) began to take some ground balls Wednesday and Showalter expected him to be back in the starting lineup Friday. Center fielder Adam Jones missed his second straight game since exiting Sunday's game with general leg soreness, and Showalter said he hopes Jones can play in the final series. … For the second straight game, Showalter flipped third baseman Manny Machado and second baseman Jonathan Schoop in the batting order, hitting Schoop second and Machado third. He said the purpose was to put Machado is more run-producing situations. "Trying to see if he can get fortunate and get some people out there and get a knock," Showalter said. … The Orioles didn't add a reliever Wednesday, but Showalter said he might for Friday or Saturday if there's a need or if he plucks a reliever from the bullpen to make Saturday's start. Showalter said there are three or four pitching options at the team's taxi-squad minicamp in Sarasota, Fla.

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