Bullish on Britton (updated)

It’s hard to believe that 84 players were drafted ahead of Zach Britton in 2006.

The Orioles took Billy Rowell in the first round, Pedro Beato in the supplemental round and Ryan Adams in the second round. They grabbed Britton in the third.

The Rangers have barely touched him tonight through the fifth.

Their only baserunners have come on walks to Mike Napoli and Elvis Andrus, and Nelson Cruz’s one-out single in the fifth that broke up the rookie’s no-hit bid. Britton has faced only one batter over the minimum because of two double plays.

The bullpen hasn’t stirred, which must be comforting to manager Buck Showalter with Game 2 looming and the Rangers capable of bashing teams into submission.

Britton has thrown 69 pitches, 42 for strikes.

Last season, Brian Matusz would chastise reporters for passing by his locker without talking to him on the days that he started. He didn’t want us to observe baseball’s unwritten rule and leave him alone.

Britton is the same way. He doesn’t want to be treated any differently just because he’s scheduled to pitch. It would actually make him uncomfortable, get inside his head, force him to think too much about his start.

I kidded a reporter this morning for chatting with him on the day he was starting, but Britton initiated the conversation. Minutes later, he told me that he might join Twitter and keep a diary of sorts on his first major league season.

It was just another day at the ballpark. Didn’t matter one bit that the Rangers were waiting for him.

Update: Britton manned up today, pure and simple. He knew the Orioles needed him to pitch deep in Game 1, and he lasted 7 2/3 innings before leaving to a rousing ovation. Fans stood to applaud before manager Buck Showalter reached the mound to take the ball.

Britton blanked the Rangers on four hits. He walked three and struck out two. He threw 103 pitches, 63 for strikes, and induced three double-play grounders. It would have been four if Mark Reynolds hadn’t bobbled the ball and settle for the out at first.

Britton has allowed one run and seven hits 13 2/3 major league innings.

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