ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Orioles hadn’t swept the Rays at Tropicana Field since 2005.
Zach Britton became only the second visiting pitcher to win his debut here since Marlins left-hander Scott Olsen on June 25, 2005.
Let’s hear from Britton:
“I was really excited,” he told reporters after finishing his interview on MASN2. “It really wasn’t as bad. I remember spring training with Philly when I was really just everywhere. It wasn’t that bad. After that first inning I started to get a lot more comfortable out on the mound, but at the same time I was really excited.”
Britton didn’t use all of his pitches throughout the game.
“We canned the sinker,” he said. “We were throwing four-seams all day and they hit some balls hard, but I think I was too amped up today to throw the sinker, so I wasn’t able to get the ground balls that I wanted to. But I had to be able to go to four-seam to be able to throw strikes. I was walking guys with the sinker, so there was really no reason to watch that. The off-speed pitches were there, especially the changeup, so thankfully they were there without the sinker.
“I was disappointed that I didn’t have the sinker, but the guys were like, ‘Hey, think about it. You can pitch here without your best pitch.’ And that’s something I’ll take out of today.”
Has it hit him yet?
“I don’t think so,” he replied. “Maybe tomorrow when I wake up, I’ll be able to take a step back and remember today. I was just excited. We’ve been playing great baseball and I think this is what everyone expected, just bringing in the guys that we did. It’s Orioles baseball. It’s putting runs together, guys getting people over, getting good pitching. Hopefully, we can take this over into the next series and continue it.”
Now he gets to experience his first opening day at Camden Yards.
“It’s going to be really special,” he said. “My first day at Camden Yards. It’s going to be really exciting. We have a lot of momentum going in. Like I said, hopefully this is the way that the Orioles are going to play baseball. And the other teams, they have to respect that.”
Pitching coach Mark Connor said Britton had “a good look in his eye.” Guys like Connor notice these things.
“It wasn’t like the world was spinning around him or anything,” Connor said. “I’ll tell you what, Matt Wieters just does a tremendous job with those guys. He doesn’t let them get withered. Just keeping throwing fastballs and changing speeds with them, and gets them back into counts. He’s not going to let these guys get beat with something they shouldn’t get beat with. For three nights, I sat there and just marveled at the way he called the ball game.
“And Zach, to be honest with you, he didn’t have his stuff today that he had this spring.”