BALTIMORE -- The Orioles optioned left-hander Zach Britton and right-hander Kevin Gausman to Triple-A Norfolk following's Tuesday's 8-4 loss to the Rangers, a move that allows the club to activate Wednesday's starter Wei-Yin Chen and add a reliever to help an overworked bullpen.
Britton allowed five earned runs on eight hits and three walks over five innings in his third loss of the season, and he was followed by Gausman, who surrendered a pair of runs over 1 2/3 innings. Gausman, the Orioles' top pitching prospect due to Dylan Bundy's Tommy John surgery, will likely be stretched back out to start for Triple-A Norfolk. Manager Buck Showalter has alluded to that being the organization's preference.
Britton, who has pitched to a 4.76 ERA this season, wouldn't have gotten another start prior to the All-Star break, since Chen's addition has temporarily given Baltimore a six-man rotation. The 25-year-old lefty went six innings or more in just one of his past four starts and is part of an inconsistent starting staff that has forced Showalter to carefully juggle his relievers. The Orioles bullpen picked up 7 1/3 innings in the first two games of the Rangers series alone, and the backsliding O's have lost five of their last six.
"After yesterday, you want to go out there and give the team some innings," said Britton, who followed up Scott Feldman's 5 1/3-inning outing in Monday's loss. "You know they are going to score runs for us, you just got to kind of outlast the other guy. [Rangers starter Martin] Perez outlasted me today, he kept his team in the game a lot better than I did."
Showalter said earlier this week that it's a possibility that the club sends a pitcher or two to the Minor Leagues to get some extra work in over the break. Gausman, 22, pitched to a 7.66 ERA in five big league starts before he was optioned for the first time earlier this season, and will likely return to that role. The Orioles' top pick in last year's Draft, Gausman had pitched seven scoreless relief innings until Tuesday's outing.
Chen, who has been sidelined with a left oblique strain, will be making his first start since exiting May 12's game in Minnesota with the injury.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. Derek Wetmore is an associate reporter for MLB.com.. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.