It may not be a good sign when Zach Britton gets more outs through the air than the ground.
That happened during his major league debut against Tampa, but he still pitched well and won the game. On Sunday versus the Rays, Britton got five outs on the ground and six in the air.
Britton said Sunday was a day he didn’t have either good command or good movement on the sinker - the one pitch he is known for and the one pitch that helped get him to the majors.
So he had to go another route in that outing, throwing more four-seam fastballs and his other secondary pitches to get outs.
“I look at that as a good experience,” O’s manager Buck Showalter said of Britton’s outing. “I think Matt (Wieters) went to Plan B before (Britton) did. Curt Shilling told me one time out of his 30 starts, he may carry all his weapons, five of them. It’s like Orel Hershiser had a saying with me: You need command of one pitch to compete, two to win and three to dominate.
“That’s what makes a guy like (Justin) Verlander so tough - he’s got four. When a major league hitter can box out one pitch, it’s a 50-50 proposition and you like your chances with them.”
Wieters should probably get some credit for recognizing early in that game that Britton’s sinker would not be an effective pitch. Still, with that being his bread and butter, going away from that to other pitches could not have been an easy choice.
“You have to make the realization early in an outing where you are, instead of just continue to have balls go out of the strike zone,” Showalter said.
Britton gave up just three hits and one run over six innings in his big league debut. He became the seventh of eight Orioles starters to win their major league debut since the start of 2009.That list includes Koji Uehara, Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken, David Hernandez, Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta.