Zach Britton is on a bit of a roll right now. He is 3-0 with an ERA of 1.25 over his last three starts after giving up just one run in eight innings today in a win over the White Sox.
Britton set a career high with 10 strikeouts and didn’t walk a batter. His previous career best was seven against Los Angeles on Sept. 17, 2011.
“I felt real good the whole game, even in the second inning,” Britton said. “I made some pretty good pitches, just a little up in the zone. I was able to get down in the zone later in the game. Got some strikeouts when I needed them. (Taylor) Teagarden did an absolutely fantastic job today.
“Teagarden was reading the bats really well today. Went to the slider when he saw that was a good pitch to go to and he did a good job of recognizing it. I had a couple of strikeouts on fastballs too, but the slider was really good today. We were on the same page the whole game.”
For Britton, who spent a lot of this season in the minors, it’s exciting to now be pitching in a pennant race for the Orioles.
“It’s good. I knew once my innings got up and I got a better feel for being back on the mound after my injury, that I would be fine,” Britton said. “It was just a matter of getting my innings. I’m in a good spot right now but I’ve got to continue it.”
Britton was optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk after the game, but is expected back on the roster in time to make his next start Sept. 4.
Teagarden took advantage of his chance to start, going 2-for-3 with a solo homer and an RBI double after entering with an .086 average. He has five hits on the season, four for extra bases and this was his first multi-hit game since last July 1 with Texas.
“You know they are going to run (Matt Wieters) out there five or six games with us in a tight wild card race,” Teagarden said. “Just have to be ready when I get my chances. But most important today was the starting pitching. Zach threw the ball outstanding today.
“The biggest thing I had to my advantage was, I’d seen these guys for three days. Trying to put together a good scouting report and game plan going into today. But he had his two best pitches working, the sinker and the slider. These guys got into swing mode a little bit and we were able to get some weak contact and strikeouts. Before you know it, it’s the eighth inning and we have a nice lead.”
He said the O’s feel ready for a big series in New York.
“We’ve beaten some good teams the last few weeks,” Teagarden said. “We take three of four from the White Sox. It says a lot about this ballclub. Our young starters are throwing the ball well and the bullpen has been an anchor all season. We’re just finding a way to get things done. We have some scrappy players in our lineup. But the biggest thing has been the pitching, like Britton today.”
Adam Jones, who hit a two-run homer in the third, gave credit to Britton also.
“He had no walks. If he can give you eight innings with no walks, he’s going to be hella hard to beat,” Jones said. “Some of their top hitters were taking uncomfortable swings off him. That let’s you know how his ball was moving. That was the most impressive I’ve seen him.”
A reporter asked Jones about the Yankees series and wondered if this will be the biggest series he’s ever played in.
“Every series is big for me. It’s the biggest series you will see me play in is what you should have said. It’s not the biggest I’m playing in. Every series is big to me,” he said.
Bowie is playoff bound: The Double-A Bowie Baysox beat Erie 8-6 Thursday night to clinch their first Eastern League playoff berth since 2008. With the Baysox on a brief injury-rehab assignment, Wilson Betemit hit a grand slam for Bowie.
Bowie will host Akron in Game 1 of a best-of-five series beginning next Wednesday. Dylan Bundy is expected to pitch the playoff opener for Bowie.
“It looks like a good Akron club is going to come in here and they are a team that deserves a lot of respect based on how they have played the whole year,” said manager Gary Kendall. “We have our work cut out for us, but I like the way we have played against them. I think we are playing a little bit better and I think the last time we went there, we could have won the series.”
The Single-A Frederick Keys lost tonight and have been eliminated from playoff contention. Frederick will miss the playoffs for just the third time in eight years. Kevin Gausman pitched three innings of shutout, one-hit ball in the Keys’ loss to Salem.