About last night ...

Zach Britton began to warm in the Orioles’ bullpen last night as they tried to rally in the bottom of the eighth inning. Manny Machado singled with one out and his club down by a run, and a save situation loomed.

And then it was gone. Adam Jones flied to center field, the Phillies brought in left-hander Adam Morgan and Chris Davis struck out for the third time.

(It might have seemed like a bold move to pinch-hit Danny Valencia, but if the club was willing to ignore the contract and sit Davis for eight games, why not at least consider it? This is assuming that Valencia was available. But I digress ...)

Britton got up again in the ninth, but the Orioles were retired in order for their 68th loss.

Scouts that are following Britton don’t need to see much more from him. I heard again last night that interest is “picking up considerably” with his velocity on the rise - his fastball is touching 97 mph - and the trademark nasty sink returning.

zach-britton-in-white-close-Sidebar.pngBritton is getting his mechanics back in sync and continues to draw praise from inside and outside the organization for the determination and professionalism required to make such a rapid return from Achilles surgery. He stuck to the schedule laid out by head athletic trainer Brian Ebel and heeded the advice of doctors. No short cuts. A lot of hard work and patience.

As I wrote late last night, the Astros are trying again to acquire Britton and seem to be making progress. The Dodgers, Red Sox, Phillies and Indians also are in the mix, though it doesn’t appear that anything is imminent.

No matter who ends up with Britton, he’s going to be a hot commodity over the cold winter months.

* The Orioles were charged with two more errors last night after manager Buck Showalter spent part of his pregame media session talking about the continuing issues with the defense.

As if on command.

The Phillies made two errors in the same inning and the Orioles couldn’t score. The Orioles weren’t hurt by Tim Beckham’s throwing error to lead off the eighth or by the pop up in the ninth that fell for a hit after Trey Mancini pulled up and glanced at Jonathan Schoop.

Official scorers usually credit the batter with a hit on a ball that falls untouched, though the team should be held accountable in some fashion for failing to record the out. However, Mancini was charged with an error. That’s pretty unusual.

* Mancini was back at his natural position last night, but only for one game. Davis was the designated hitter to provide a little rest and he went 0-for-4 with the three strikeouts to lower his average to .156.

Though Mancini has been playing left field, Showalter mentioned again that his future might be in right because of the ballpark’s design.

“I think Trey needs to get more reps,” he said. “That was something we wanted to do in the spring, but when we signed Colby (Rasmus) and some other situations, it didn’t really present itself.”

Has anybody talked to Rasmus lately?

* The Orioles can go in so many directions with Beckham next season.

He’s being paid $3.35 million this year and will get another raise in arbitration, which could make him a non-tender candidate. Or he could be the starting shortstop or third baseman.

The ability to move around the infield and play the outfield if needed makes Beckham, on paper, a nice super-utility candidate. Except the salary wouldn’t match the role and Beckham wants nothing to do with it.

Beckham could be the shortstop after Machado is traded unless the Orioles get one back in the deal. Someone has to do it.

* It won’t get much notice in the 5-4 loss, but Miguel Castro stranded two runners in the seventh inning on a force out and a double play. He threw 10 pitches, eight for strikes.

Walks have been killing Castro this season and making him less trustworthy - and less likely to get a shot as a starter. He was averaging 5.9 per nine innings before last night.

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