Zach Britton had quite the interesting night last night. First off, the bottom line is that the Baltimore Orioles dropped the series opener to Seattle by the score of 6-2. All six runs were charged to Britton, who gave up a home run to Michael Saunders on the second pitch of the game. Britton’s final line: 6 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 2 BB, 2 K. The good news is that Britton only walked two batters, however the bad news of course is that he gave up ten hits instead. If you have guys on base you’re going to potentially surrender runs. If you pitch-to-contact, you’re going to potentially get guys on base. Having said that, pitching-to-strikeout will generally yield walks, so pick your poison. Britton was able to induce a lot of ground balls, which will sometimes lead to outs. In last night’s game they found their way through the the outfield.
Britton may have only gone six innings in the game, however Tommy Hunter potentially did the club a huge service by pitching the final two innings of the game (obviously Seattle didn’t have to take a turn at bat in the last of the ninth). That means that Jim Johnson and T.J. McFarland are both on 2+ days of rest, and the rest of the bullpen (with the exception of course of Hunter) has one day of rest. I suppose there still might be a few tired arms out there, however the Orioles’ pen is probably in the best shape it’s seen in a week.
After the sixth Britton was at 101 pitches; with a tired pen, Buck Showalter might have had an inkling to at least see if Britton could go just a bit further. However a bizzare circumstance in the last of the sixth probably closed the door on Britton for the night. Home plate umpire Alan Porter routinely threw a ball back to Britton, and the ball appeared to hit him above the left forearm. Britton was in obvious discomfort, and Showalter and trainer Ritchie Bancells examined him and at least felt comfortable letting him finish the inning. While the Orioles probably shouldn’t expect Porter to issue a mea culpa, I think they’d probably appreciate it. That’s exactly the reason why umpires should hand the balls back to the catcher to throw back. That’s not something that in anyway affected the outcome of the game, however it is something that could affect Britton.
With Seattle leading 1-0, Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer off of former Oriole Joe Saunders to give the O’s a short-lived 2-1 lead in the fourth. In the last of the inning Seattle reclaimed the lead at 3-2 on Jason Bay‘s RBI-double and former Oriole Robert Andino‘s RBI-single. Seattle manufacture thee more runs in the sixth to close out the scoring for the night, defeating the Orioles 6-2.
The Birds now need to decide what to do with Britton. My money would be on him getting at least one more start, which would come Saturday in Anaheim. That’s not said with any firsthand knowledge of the situation, just a gut feeling. My initial thought is that Britton probably isn’t injured in a significant manner from the Porter throw from last night, however as opposed to wasting an option might the Orioles also consider using that to send him to the DL? That would open up a roster spot for another pitcher such as Steve Johnson or Freddy Garcia to come up and make the start on Saturday. (On an unrelated note it might also send a message to the league to control the actions of their umpires, because something like that should never happen.) The Orioles have options, but one thing at a time.
The series continues tonight as Jason IN mel reeturns to the mound after a great start in Oakland last week. Hammel will be opposed by Brandon Maurer who though has been solid of late, struggled in his first two starts of 2013. Expect on-base machine Nate McLouth to be back in the lineup tonight after sitting last night with a southpaw on the mound.