Zach Britton on trade deadline passing, plus other clubhouse quotes

Zach Britton’s day began with him yet again at the center of trade rumors. He ended it yet again doing a solid job for the Orioles. He pitched a scoreless ninth tonight and was the winning pitcher in the Orioles’ 2-1 walk-off win over Kansas City.

It was a nice start to a three-game series and weeklong homestand on a day where Britton went through a range of emotions.

“I just tried to treat it like a normal day,” Britton said after his 10-pitch outing. “I understood there was stuff flying around there. But I’ve been around long enough to know something doesn’t always happen just because someone says it might. So I just took it in stride.

“I think there was just a period where it was, ‘This is where I’m going to stay.’ I didn’t have to worry about going anywhere else. I could relax and pitch well and help this team get to the postseason. The thought of going somewhere else was completely gone. Maybe got rid of the some of the awkwardness I felt like that was in the clubhouse before the deadline was over and everyone just got back to normal.”

Britton was asked if he had any indication that a deal involving him was close today.

“Not necessarily, no.” he said.

But in recent days, he has considered the possibility that his Orioles career could be winding down.

“There was definitely a thought,” he said. “I was talking with my agent. Nothing with the team. But you know, nothing did happen and we won a ballgame. Hopefully, we can get something rolling. This is a team, if we sweep these guys, you know we are right there. That is what we are worried about now. None of the trade deadline stuff. That stuff is over with.”

Britton had not pitched on back-to-back days since April 13-14, until the last two games at Texas. Tonight he worked for a third day in a row. But over those three outings, he faced just six batters, throwing 23 combined pitches in getting a win and two saves. He is slowly returning to peak 2016-type form.

“I felt like the second one in Texas and then today - three days in a row, hadn’t done that all year,” he said. “I actually felt better today than I did yesterday, just like the second day in Texas I felt better than the first. Sometimes, getting back out there, your body just gets in synch and that is what I needed. I felt kind of out of whack going every other day or two days off pitching. So getting back out there, in an environment where we have the lead or a tie game, I think just helped my focus a little bit. I’ve been feeling good the last few games.”

joseph-jones-walk-off-white sidebar (1).jpgBritton became the winning pitcher when left fielder Craig Gentry’s two-out single to center scored Caleb Joseph and provided the walk-off win in the ninth.

“It’s incredible,” Gentry said of getting the game-winning single. “That is a great team over there. We battled. Ubaldo (Jiménez) came out and did an unbelievable job and our bullpen shut them down. For me to be come up like that, it means a lot to me.”

It was the first career walk-off hit for Gentry.

“It doesn’t surprise me, I knew this was my first walk-off,” he said. “That was an unbelievable feeling to get that opportunity. To be honest, I thought I was going to get pinch-hit for.”

The Orioles were able to win with just two runs tonight, because Jiménez gave the team a second strong start in a row. Over seven innings, he allowed five hits and one run on 100 pitches. This was his third start of the year allowing one or zero runs. He has given up three runs in 13 innings his past two games.

“I felt pretty good,” Jiménez said. “The fastball was moving a lot and that is probably what got me out of trouble. I was able to spot the fastball wherever Caleb was calling for it. He called a great game and I was executing. It doesn’t matter how you start, you have to finish strong. It feels good to give the team a chance to win.”

The win was the 1,480th in his career for manager Buck Showalter. That ties him for 24th all-time with Orioles legend and Hall of Famer Earl Weaver.

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