Zach Britton didn’t get rattled on the mound today, and he kept the same composure in the interview room.
Maybe he’ll crack a smile later tonight.
Britton was all business today, shutting out the Rangers on four hits over 7 2/3 innings. He must have left his nerves back in Clearwater.
“I felt pretty good,” he said.
Is it getting easier?
“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “Getting that first one out of the way in Tampa, I feel really comfortable out on the mound lately. I think I’m more nervous before the game when I’m getting warmed up. But once I get on the mound and the first hitter’s in there, I feel good.”
Britton didn’t care that he was facing the Rangers.
“My job today was to go out there and give us a lot of innings because we have a doubleheader, so just save the bullpen,” he said. “My job going in was to go as deep as I can. And that’s what my mindset was - just keep us in the game and log innings.”
The final score seemed more important to Britton than his line.
“I’m happy we won,” he said. “I think we showed we can compete with a good team. We played really good baseball today and that’s what this is all about, playing good baseball. What I did was just icing on the cake.”
Britton left to a standing ovation that started before he handed the ball to manager Buck Showalter.
“It felt really good,” he said. “Just kind of shows that the fans are behind you. There were a couple times with two strikes, they got pretty loud. I got goosebumps there. It takes a little bit to get used to, but it’s exciting.”
Not exciting enough for Britton to tip his cap before ducking into the dugout.
“I knew they were on their feet the whole time,” he said. “I just don’t feel like I should be running in all happy with guys on base and not being able to finish that inning. My job is to finish that inning, get the out. I didn’t do it, so I wasn’t too happy about that. But we won, so that’s the big thing.”
Britton induced three double plays.
“Real big,” he said. “I felt like I had a pretty good sinker today. Command of it wasn’t great, but I tried to change my sights, throw it over the plate and hope they beat it into the ground. And we played great defense, and that helps me a lot, too. I’m confident in getting ground balls when you have guys behind you like that.”
It didn’t hurt that Britton was staked to an early 5-0 lead.
“I mean it is two different worlds when you’re pitching with a lead and then you’re pitching behind,” he said. “I wouldn’t care if I give up a home run on the first pitch. I’ll go right after them. If they hit it out, they hit it out. If they get a hit, they get a hit. If you have a 5-0 lead, my job is to go out there and pitch quick innings and get us back in the dugout.”
Britton relied mostly on his four-seamer and changeup.
“Threw a couple sliders,” he said, “but I had a good feel for the changeup today, which really helped me.”