There's been a lot of excitement surrounding Orioles rookie Kevin Gausman, who will make his second Major League start on Tuesday against the Nationals. The 22-year-old right-hander, the O's No. 2 prospect, was the fourth overall pick of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft and shot through Baltimore's system before debuting last Thursday at Toronto.
Gausman's line vs. the Blue Jays was nothing special -- he allowed four runs on seven hits while striking out five in five innings -- but he flashed his electric stuff, with a fastball that reaches into the high 90s and an excellent changeup. The outing was a learning experience for a pitcher who has made all of 13 Minor League starts, including eight at Double-A and none at Triple-A.
"You know, they're going to hit mistakes," Gausman said. "Looking back on my last start, I watched video of it the day after, and all the balls that they hit really hard for extra-base hits were balls that I missed my spot or didn't make the pitch that I was trying to make."
At the same time, Gausman realized that his stuff is good enough to work at the big league level and that he simply needs to focus on keeping the ball down and getting ground balls. He also knows that he has a significant asset in catcher Matt Wieters, whom he didn't shake off once in his first start.
"Yeah, you know, he's been around these hitters, he knows them way more than me, more than a lot of guys," Gausman said. "So I trust him completely, and whatever he's thinking, I have full faith in him and I'll just try to throw that pitch with conviction."
Gausman actually has more big league experience than his opponent, Nathan Karns. The Nationals announced after Monday's game that they will call up Karns, the Nats' No. 6 prospect, from Double-A Harrisburg to make the start for Ross Detwiler, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list (oblique strain) on Sunday.
"He's one of the good young arms in the organization," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "He's been throwing the ball pretty good lately."
The 25-year-old right-hander has a 2.70 ERA in three Minor League seasons, including 4.60 in nine starts for Double-A Harrisburg this year. He was the Nationals' 12th-round pick in the 2009 Draft out of Texas Tech and impressed the club during Spring Training.
"He throws hard, got a good hard breaking ball -- more of a slurve -- got a good change," Johnson said.
Orioles: Hunter's injury not serious
Right-hander Tommy Hunter is hoping to be available out of the bullpen on Tuesday after sitting out Monday's game with an injury to his pitching hand. Hunter barehanded a hard-hit ball from Toronto's Jose Bautista on Sunday, and while his palm was slightly swollen on Monday, a second X-ray taken Monday also came back negative.
• Closer Jim Johnson, who blew his fourth save in five opportunities on Sunday, will continue to get the ball in save situations. Johnson converted 51 of his 54 chances a year ago and has been working with pitching coach Rick Adair on making some adjustments.
Nationals: Harper out with knee trouble
Outfielder Bryce Harper likely will miss his second straight game on Tuesday with bursitis in his left knee. The injury stems from Harper's collision with the right-field wall at Dodger Stadium on May 13, and he aggravated it with a pair of head-first slides on Sunday.
Team doctor Wiemi Douoguih said an MRI revealed no structural damage in the knee, but if Harper plays, he risks having the swelling flare up again. Manager Davey Johnson could keep the 20-year-out off the field by putting him at designated hitter when the series moves to Baltimore on Wednesday and Thursday.
• Second baseman Danny Espinosa is aiming to return to the lineup on Wednesday or Thursday as he recovers from bone chips in his right wrist. Espinosa tested the wrist during hitting and fielding practice on Monday morning and will wait to see if the joint swells overnight.
• Last season, the Nationals made the playoffs for the first time since moving to Washington in 2005, while the Orioles qualified for the postseason for the first time since 1997, when they were managed by current Nationals skipper Johnson.
"I think it's great, I think it's wonderful. I've been excited about it," Johnson said of the series. "It's no secret I love this area. There's been some hard times here, and there's been some hard times in Baltimore. They're great football towns, they should be great baseball towns, too. Baltimore is, it's kind of been struggling here until last year. But I like their ballclub. They've got some good young pitchers. They've got a great offensive club, a great defensive club. It should be great, I'm excited for it. Should be a great [matchup]."
• The Nationals' loss on Monday was their first against an American League team this season, dropping them to 5-1 and 23-16 since the start of 2011. They entered the day with the Majors' fifth-best Interleague winning percentage over that span.
• The Nationals are 1-4 this season when facing opposing rookie pitchers.
• The Orioles have scored at least five runs in 10 consecutive road games for the first time in franchise history, according to Elias.