For Orioles left-hander Zach Britton to have success tonight, he needs to keep the ball on the ground. He needs that sinker to be working.
He needs to do a better job with Michael Saunders.
Activated from the disabled list this afternoon, Saunders drove Britton’s second pitch of the game into the right field seats to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead over the Orioles.
The Mariners have hit three leadoff home runs this season. Saunders just collected the first of his career.
Britton threw a 91 mph fastball that Saunders took for ball one. He threw another one that Saunders crushed.
Britton retired the next three hitters on ground balls to first, third and second base. He threw 17 pitches in the inning, 10 for strikes.
In three starts with Triple-A Norfolk, Britton recorded only one fly ball out. The rest were ground balls and strikeouts.
Granted, his first start lasted only two innings because of a blister on his left thumb, but it’s still an impressive stat.
Update: Britton has thrown 41 pitches in three innings, 25 for strikes, and he now holds a 2-1 lead.
Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer off former teammate Joe Saunders with two outs in the top of the fourth inning, after Chris Davis singled to keep the inning alive.
Wieters is 3-for-4 with two homers lifetime against Saunders, who didn’t allow an earned run in two home starts before tonight.
Manny Machado singled earlier in the inning to extend his hitting streak to eight games. He’s 7-for-11 in the last three.
Update II: The lead didn’t last long.
Britton allowed two runs in the bottom of the fourth and threw 34 pitches, raising his total to 75.
The plate ump may have been squeezing him, but Britton still gave up a single to the first batter he faced, walked the next and eventually gave up an RBI double to Jason Bay and RBI single to former teammate Robert Andino.
Britton also threw a wild pitch and walked Michael Saunders.
Not the shutdown inning that manager Buck Showalter wants to see after his team takes a lead.