Britton's strange night lasts six innings (O's lose 6-2)

Orioles left-hander Zach Britton experienced a little bit of everything tonight in his first major league start of 2013.

The home run he allowed on his second pitch of the night. The 34-pitch fourth inning. The easy nine-pitch fifth inning. The three-run sixth inning, and the bruise he probably sustained on his left arm from the home plate umpire.

Strange night indeed.

Britton allowed six runs and 10 hits in six innings, with two walks, two strikeouts and a wild pitch. He totaled 101 pitches, 60 for strikes.

Manager Buck Showalter, head athletic trainer Richie Bancells and plate umpire Alan Porter gathered on the mound in the sixth after Britton walked off it and kept flexing his left arm. No wonder. MASN replays showed Britton being hit above the biceps area by a thrown ball from Porter, who chose to handle that task himself rather than give it to catcher Matt Wieters.

Britton threw a few warmup tosses and stayed in the game. Porter probably wished he could leave it.

Want to get away?

At first, it appeared that Britton had hurt his shoulder while throwing a pitch. Who could have suspected that an umpire would drill him between batters? It's not the sort of thing you watch for during a game.

Seriously, guys, just hand the ball to the catcher. He gets paid to throw it.

Now the Orioles must decide whether Britton has earned another start. His turn comes up again Saturday in Anaheim.

Do the Orioles hand him the ball again? Do they select Freddy Garcia's contract from Triple-A Norfolk? Do they activate Steve Johnson, who made another injury rehab start tonight at Norfolk? Is it none of the above?

Stay tuned.

Tommy Hunter has replaced Britton tonight. Maybe this is why he was held out of yesterday's 10-inning game in Oakland.

Update: Former Oriole Joe Saunders went the distance tonight for the Mariners in a 6-2 victory before 9,818, the smallest crowd in Safeco Field history.

The Orioles didn't collect a hit after Matt Wieters' home run in the fourth inning.

Hunter covered the last two innings for the Orioles. He hasn't allowed a run in his last five appearances covering nine innings. His fastball topped out at 100 mph tonight and he was routinely at 97-98.

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