In his last major league start, Zach Britton gave up eight runs in the first inning on July 8 at Boston. Last night, pitching for Double-A Bowie at home against Harrisburg, he took a shutout into the fifth inning and then gave up eight runs to that club.
There was an error that hurt his cause, but Britton gave up eight runs (four earned) and eight hits in 4 2/3 with no walks and nine strikeouts. He allowed two homers in that fifth inning before leaving the game.
Orioles director of player development John Stockstill was at the game at Prince George's Stadium. Later last night, he was a guest on my radio show, Baltimore Baseball Tonight, on 105.7 FM, the Fan, and talked about Britton's outing at Bowie.
"The first four innings were very good, matter of fact, about the best we've seen him all year," Stockstill said. "I think he had seven strikeouts. Had command of all of his pitches and just kind of breezed through them.
"In the fifth, he had a first and third situation and got a groundball to get a potential double play. (First baseman Joe) Mahoney got the groundball, threw home to get a guy at the plate, the runner went back to third safe to create a bases loaded situation. The next guy tripled and it kind of snowballed from there."
Stockstill said Britton's location in that fifth inning seemed to be an issue.
"He got the pitch up on the (bases loaded) triple to right-center. The three-run homer he gave up on a fastball on the inner third of the plate. The other (homer), he hung a slider over the plate. The hitter was looking for a fastball and got a slider and that sped his bat up a bit," Stockstill said.
Despite a poor statistical outing, the Orioles could still call Britton up to start on Saturday at New York. Stockstill said last night's fifth inning will not impact that decision.
"No, it won't have any bearing on what we decide to do for the weekend," he said.
On a couple of other fronts, Stockstill said pitcher Matt Hobgood, who has made two starts for Aberdeen, for now will stay with the IronBirds.
"He will go, at least a couple of more (outings) at Aberdeen. He is doing great on his program to be healthy for next spring training. You don't want to rush some of these guys back to where they were. His velocity is, for the most part, back. The last thing that comes with a rehab guy is the control and command.
"For the most part, we've seen him between 87 and 93. He was 93 the other day."
Stockstill also said Frederick first baseman Tyler Townsend is getting closer to returning to the Keys. Townsend, who is batting .318 in 64 games with 23 doubles, 13 homers, 50 RBIs and an OPS of .943, has been out about two weeks with a recurring hamstring injury.
"We are hoping another week to ten days. He's been troubled with a hamstring (issue) now for about two years. That is something we have to look at with him and some other guys with their off-season conditioning. Is there something we can do to get them freer and looser to make sure they are healthy next year. He was doing better this week," he said.
Meanwhile, right-handed pitcher Dan Klein, who is rehabbing a small slap tear in his right labrum in Sarasota, still has not begun a throwing program. At this point, there may not be enough time for Klein to make it back to pitch in any more minor league games this year.
"He has a better range of motion and the arm is getting stronger, but he is not to the point of throwing," Stockstill said. "You are usually 30 days out (from a game) when you start the program. So he is at the point, where it is very unlikely he would pitch in a game before September 7th, the last week of the season."
Klein last pitched on June 1 for Double-A Bowie and, this season between Frederick and Bowie, was 3-1 with an ERA of 1.11 and 37 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings.
If you want to listen to the entire interview with Stockstill that aired on 105.7 the Fan last night, click here.