Not long before the Orioles opened a four-game series with the Rays -- the third of which comes on Wednesday -- Baltimore manager Buck Showalter reflected on one of the blockbuster moves that went down in the American League East this season and how it positions Tampa Bay for the future.
The Rays sent out David Price, a former Cy Young winner and a staple of the team since its World Series run in 2008, and brought in 25-year-old Drew Smyly.
"I'll be interested to see who pitches better the next five years," Showalter wondered.
Since he arrived in Tampa Bay, Smyly has had the best stretch of his career. The pitcher has posted a 1.55 ERA in four starts, and on Friday he hurled a two-hitter for the first complete game of his career.
"It definitely helps with your confidence," Smyly said. "You've already done it once, why can't you do it again? It's just about executing pitches, making good pitches. There's a lot of good hitters out there."
The O's have taken the first two games from the Rays to start an 11-game homestand at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and stretch their lead over the Yankees in the AL East back to seven games. On Wednesday, they turn to Kevin Gausman.
Gausman's last few outings have been rough. Fatigue and perhaps some mental exhaustion have caught up with the rookie pitcher, who has posted a 4.31 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break.
"This is a time of year that mentally and emotionally he hasn't pitched in," Showalter said. "It's somewhat of a factor, but not near the factor it would be if his innings were up. But he feels good. We've given him some extra bumps here and there. He's in pretty good shape. He feels good. It's a great thing to get behind him career-wise. I'd love to see him pitch through October. It's what I'd really like to see."
Orioles: O's keep options open with Jimenez
Ubaldo Jimenez hasn't started a game since Aug. 16 and has only pitched in relief once since then, but the Orioles haven't ruled out a potential return to the starting rotation for Jimenez.
As of now, Baltimore doesn't have a start scheduled for Jimenez, and they want him to be available to pitch out of the bullpen while staying stretched out for potential future starts.
"If we see that we are covered [in the bullpen] we are going to continue to make him available to us as a starter, too," Showalter said. "The need could be there shortly."
Rays: Longoria expects to return to third
For the last two days, a player other than Evan Longoria has occupied the All-Star's usual spot at third base. Longoria has been spending time as Tampa Bay's designated hitter to rest his sore right forearm.
"I don't think it's any cause for concern," Longoria said on Tuesday. "It's something I've been playing through five days before that. And just kind of trying to give it a rest and a chance to calm it down. It doesn't bother me when I hit. That's a good thing. Should be back in there [at third base]."
Longoria, who drove in two runs in Tuesday's 4-2 loss, isn't considering the notion of a stint on the disabled list and doesn't even have an MRI scheduled, nor does he plan on having one. If he needs an extra day, the Rays can continue using him as a DH until he returns to full health.
• Tampa Bay has lost only one of its last 10 road series.
• Surprising O's slugger Steve Pearce extended his hitting streak to a career-high nine games with an infield single during the fifth inning of Tuesday's 4-2 win.
David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.