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Rainout provides relief to Orioles pitching dilemma

Kevin Gausman will start on regular rest Tuesday and Tyler Wilson will pitch Wednesday for the Orioles.

Before Monday's scheduled series opener against the Minnesota Twins, Orioles manager Buck Showalter ran down some of the candidates to fill the team's open rotation spot on Wednesday at Target Field.

No situation was ideal, not with an afternoon game that day limiting the possibility of flying in a pitcher from one of the team's minor league affiliates, and not with Showalter unable to commit to a bullpen arm without knowing how his relievers would be used over the next two nights.

"A lot of it depends on [Monday's] game and [Tuesday]," Showalter said.

Weather hasn't been kind to the Orioles over the first five weeks of the season — forcing numerous delays and postponements that have altered the team's schedule — but this time the Orioles received an assist from Mother Nature.

Monday's opener was postponed by rain, solving the team's pitching dilemma.

The Orioles will pay later. They will have to return to Minneapolis on July 28 to play the Twins on a common day off before a three-game series in Toronto, the second day off they've lost this season.

But it allows the Orioles to find a starter for Wednesday without getting overly creative.

Monday's scheduled starter, right-hander Tyler Wilson, will start Wednesday afternoon's game. Right-hander Kevin Gausman will remain tonight's scheduled starter.

The Twins will remain in order. Right-hander Jose Berrios will start tonight and right-hander Phil Hughes will pitch on Wednesday.

Showalter chose to keep Gausman on regular rest, in which situations he has excelled. Gausman owns a 3.93 ERA in 22 career starts on four days' rest, compared to a 4.19 in 23 career starts with extra rest. Gausman has pitched to a 1.29 ERA in two starts this season on regular rest.

Wilson, who began the season in the Orioles bullpen, is more used to infrequency. He had one span this season when he went eight days between appearances.

The Orioles initially needed a Wednesday starter because they had burned through two of their rotation regulars during Saturday's doubleheader against the Oakland Athletics. Showalter said he wasn't going to bring back right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez or right-hander Mike Wright, the two pitchers who started that doubleheader, on short rest.

Showalter was initially considering starting Jimenez on three days' rest, but after talking to Jimenez on Monday, the manager decided against it. Jimenez has never started on short rest in 217 career major league starts, and he also went a season-high eight innings in the night game of Saturday's doubleheader.

Long reliever Vance Worley became a leading candidate to start Wednesday — he opened the season in the starting rotation — but that would only have happened if he wasn't used over the first two games in Minnesota.

Double-A Bowie left-hander Chris Lee could have also been an option, but he pitched Sunday. Bowie right-hander Parker Bridwell, who is in line to start Wednesday, was another. Calling up a minor leaguer would have required a roster move and a quick decision.

"Because of the day game, if we were taking somebody outside of this pitching staff, they'd probably need to travel [today], especially with a 12:10 [Central Time] game," Showalter said.

The postponement solved the problem, but was the latest in a string of early-season rain delays and rescheduled games.

The postponement of Friday's home game against the A's was the Orioles' second in 17 home dates. The Orioles' April 16 game at Texas was also postponed due to rain, forcing the Orioles to travel back to Texas on June 20 in the middle of a homestand to play a makeup game in Arlington.

Their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 9 was postponed due to wintry conditions. A makeup date has yet to be set.

But that only hints at how much bad weather has hindered the Orioles' early-season routine. Rain delays for games that were played totaled three hours and 12 minutes. Opening Day featured two rain delays totaling two hours, 51 minutes, while later that week, a 21-minute rain delay halted their eventual 4-2 win as they swept the Twins, who have the worst record in the American League.

"We owe a lot of teams some whuppins, and the Orioles are one of them," Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe said. "So we are hoping we can do that. We were excited to play today and get started with that but we have to wait until tomorrow.''

eencina@baltsun.com

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