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They were two outings 22 days apart, but in back-to-back big league starts at Boston and New York, Orioles rookie Zach Britton got knocked out twice in the first inning.
Over those two starts, the second of which was Saturday night at Yankee Stadium, Britton pitched a combined one inning giving up 13 hits, 17 runs with 13 earned and threw 85 pitches. Opponent batters went 13-for-17 against him in the outings and his ERA rose from 3.47 to 4.56.
Britton became the first pitcher in major league history with back-to-back starts where he gave up eight or more runs without finishing the first frame.
Britton was a guest on 105.7 FM The Fan in Baltimore on last night's Baltimore Baseball Tonight pregame show, where I was filling in for regular host Bob Haynie, and I interviewed him along with Jen Royle and Jim Duquette.
"I think right now it's confidence for me, it's more the mental approach knowing that I can get these guys out and staying aggressive," Britton said. "Not getting timid, because I know my stuff is there. I've been talking to Kevin Gregg the last couple of days, been talking to Matt Wieters and even J.J Hardy came up and said, 'Your stuff is fine, don't think you need to add a new pitch or start throwing this or that.'
"It's about believing in it and knowing you can get these guys out again. With a couple of bad outings, your confidence kind of wanes a bit. They just told me to just stay aggressive and the results will be there at the end if you just stay aggressive."
Britton gave up nine runs (six earned) in just a 1/3 of an inning at New York.
"Obviously, really disappointed with the effort that I had on the mound. Especially coming after Boston and then going down to Bowie, just feel likes the last few weeks have been really mentally tough. To come back up and have a rough outing again it strains you mentally, but this game is a challenge and you kind of see how you bounce back when times are rough," he said.
Britton said he expects to take his next turn in the Orioles' rotation, which could come as soon as Thursday in Kansas City.
"As far as I know, I'm on schedule," he said. "I know an outing like that puts a damper on things. For me, even I'm thinking, 'Do I get another start?' and I was thinking that night, 'Am I going back down tomorrow.'
"When Buck (Showalter) came to take me out in New York, he said, 'See you in a couple of days.' I took that to heart and said I appreciate that he is not down on me yet. He has faith that I can turn it around and get back to what I was doing in the beginning of the season. Whether it's the last day in Kansas City or the first day back home, I'm just going to make sure I am really prepared to go after them.
"When you have a couple of tough outings, it's always in the back of your mind, 'Hey, am I going back down?' You don't want that to creep into your mind, so you put emphasis on making sure you are doing the right things. There is a lot of stress at the big league level, but we are not going to stay here a long time if that stress takes over."
Britton said the core group of young starters is down, but not out and still believes it can help get the Orioles back to winning ways in the future.
"I still feel like we're going to be the guys to anchor this team for a long time. We just need to figure it out at this level and get over this hump. We just can't get over it, but once we do overcome it, we're going to be pretty good. It's just a matter of time until we figure it out," Britton said.