BOSTON -- Over the last 45 plate appearances, Kevin Gausman has held Major League hitters to a .195 batting average. He's allowed just four extra-base hits while striking out 18 and walking four.
On Wednesday night, he struck out five of the six Red Sox batters he faced as he pitched two perfect innings to extend a game the Orioles won in 12 innings.
Manager Buck Showalter won't "fox-hole" Gausman into one specific role. But it's become obvious that the 22-year-old has earned trust, working his way into late-game situations regularly.
"This time of year, stuff plays," Showalter said Wednesday. "He's pitched in some big venues. Until you go to a night SEC game on Friday night against rivals -- he's pitched with high expectations a lot in his career."
Gausman, who was pitching for Louisiana State University just more than a year ago, also impressed Red Sox manager John Farrell.
"Well there's a lot [to like]," Farrell said. "Arm strength, action, strike throwing ability. To think that someone 14 months ago was on the campus of LSU and is now pitching in a pennant race, it was impressive, both in raw stuff and just composure and attacking the strike zone. He's got great stuff."
Davis shows he has a softer side
BOSTON -- Chris Davis occasionally falls victim to the power-hitter mentality. They want to crush everything.
"He does that," said Orioles hitting coach Jim Presley. "He still struck out 180 times."
But with Wednesday night's game against the Red Sox on the line in the 12th inning, with bases loaded and two outs in a tie game, Davis put aside his desire to smash and simply tried to poke.
Franklin Morales served him a 1-2 slider that began high and inside but dove toward plate. Davis took a second to recognize it, then gave a late, protective swing that somehow connected with the barrel of the bat. The result was a ground ball through the middle of the infield, scoring two runs as the Orioles won, 5-3.
It was another sign of his maturity.
"I think he's always had plate coverage," Presley said. "He's a big, strong kid, 6-foot-5, 240 pounds and swings a 35-inch bat. So his strike zone -- he can reach out there and take a ball that's on the white line away and hit the ball pretty well.
"He just has trouble sometimes -- he gets himself out, swings at bad pitches. But he's been real good at that this year. After the first couple months, he's tightened the zone up and gotten things locked up."
While Davis is still striking out about 30 percent of the time, consistent with his career numbers, his plate coverage and plate discipline have shown drastic improvement.
In 2011, Davis swung at 45.6 percent of pitches thrown outside the strike zone, according to fangraphs.com. In 2013, he's swung at just 36.6 percent of pitches outside the zone.
That's what's impressed Presley.
"I think he knows now they're trying to pitch around him in certain counts, looking in certain counts," Presley said. "They're not going to throw a fastball, 2-1, 3-1 down the middle to him. They're going to off-speed him. And they've been pitching him in quite a bit. He's taken his walks and done really well with that plate discipline."
Jason Mastrodonato is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.