Pregame notes on Britton, the roster and more (O’s lose 13-8)

DETROIT - Orioles closer Zach Britton will take another important step tomorrow in his rehab from his right Achilles surgery in December. Britton will throw off a half mound at Camden Yards. It’s his first time on a mound since the surgery.

“That’s a good step for us,” manager Buck Showalter said before today’s game. “Do that a couple of times, and if that goes well then proceed to the (full) mound. He’s excited about putting his foot on the rubber on the mound. That’s a good step and he’s doing well. Right on schedule.”

britton-sets-orange-sidebar.jpgBritton is on the 60-day disabled list and cannot be activated before May 28.

The skipper indicated today that the Orioles could go back to an eight-man bullpen when the Cleveland series begins Friday in Baltimore. Right now it looks like either Engelb Vielma or Luis Sardiñas could have a vunerable roster spot.

“We have to see how we get through the game today, pitching-wise, and see if we need to go to eight. That will be a factor,” Showalter said. “We’ve got a little history with both of them from spring training. They both bring something. Players change. It’s not like Luis Sardiñas is 30 years old. At one time he was a who’s who prospect with Texas.

“They are both as advertised so far. So, where we go with that, everybody has options - me, you, players. I hate to penalize a guy just because he has options, but sometimes that has to play into it if there is a not clear separator.”

Vielma has two options remaining. Sardiñas is out of options. The Orioles could be looking to add another lefty to the bullpen. Sardiñas got the start at second base here Tuesday and Vielma started at second yesterday. Sardiñas pinch-hit in the ninth yesterday and hit a game-tying homer off Shane Greene.

Showalter today discussed the ups and downs that Rule 5 reliever Pedro Araujo has seen so early in his rookie season. For instance, he threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings in the Orioles’ two extra-inning wins at Yankee Stadium. That was critical in both victories. But he had a rough outing in Houston and yesterday gave up a walk-off homer in the last of the ninth.

A lot to digest for a pitcher who was in the Carolina League last season.

“It’s challenging. That is the life up here. That is one thing we liked about him, pretty strong constitution. But you look for those things with their limited background and experience. But that’s the apple you bite with a Rule 5 pick. Lot of learning on the job. Good kid, though. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets in the game today and pitches well,” he said.

Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph is batting just .081 for the year with one hit his last 25 at-bats. Chance Sisco, who starts today, is batting .258. The Indian have four right-handers scheduled to start in a series that begins Friday. Could Sisco get all or most of those starts?

“Obviously, he (Joseph) is struggling offensively. He’s still catching and calling a good game. There is that possibility,” Showalter said.

The skipper was asked about Joseph’s struggles. What is holding him back from getting going at bat?

“I think Caleb is,” Showalter said. “He was pretty good offensively last year. He’s got a lot of want-to getting in the way of actually doing it. You can tell there is a lot of anxiety in his hitting right now. And a lot of our guys. They are almost pushing too much. It is really hard to get them to back off. There were three guys still in the cage when I left here last night. They are getting after it. Almost to a fault.”

Davis homers for the lead: Making his second Orioles start, right-hander Alex Cobb allowed three singles and fell behind 1-0 in the first inning today. Victor Martinez drove in the run that put Detroit ahead. Cobb had allowed three runs in the first in his O’s debut at Boston.

But the lead didn’t last long. After Adam Jones doubled off Tigers right-hander Jordan Zimmermann to start the Baltimore second, Chris Davis hit a two-run homer to left. It was his second of the year and ended a nine-game homerless run. Davis went with a tailing fastball and hit it down the line and out. In his career versus Zimmermann he is now 6-for-10 with four homers and seven RBIs.

That inning was ugly: Cobb allowed four runs and four hits as Detroit took a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the second. Third baseman Tim Beckham had a tough inning. He made a throwing error to start the inning. Later he could not barehand a slow roller that was scored a hit, and he also bobbled a hard-hit grounder that might have gone for a double play to end the inning. Instead, it went for a fielder’s choice and a run. José Iglesias had a two-run triple in the inning as the Tigers are looking for a three-game sweep.

The Orioles cut the lead to 5-3 when Manny Machado homered in the third. He hit No. 4 a distance of 409 feet. It was 112 mph off the bat and pulled the Orioles within two runs.

Cobb gets early exit: Cobb allowed a two-run homer to Jeimer Candelario and was knocked out in the fourth inning. Detroit now leads 7-3. Cobb allowed 10 hits and seven runs (five earned) today.

Over his first two starts he has pitched seven innings, allowing 20 hits and 15 runs (12 earned) for a 15.43 ERA. In those starts the Red Sox and Tigers have gone 20-for-40 against him.

The blowout is on: Leonys Martin hit a grand slam off Mike Wright Jr. in the fifth as Detoit opened a 12-3 lead. They are blowing out the Orioles. Through five, Tigers batters went 15-for-30 with two triples and two homers.

Machado hit his second homer of the day to make it 12-4 in the sixth. He has two multi-homer games this year (also April 6 at New York) and 16 for his career.

And the sweep is complete: Sisco scored on a Machado groundout in the 7th, and Jones got Trey Mancini home with a double. Victor Reyes got a run back for the Tigers in the eighth on a José Iglesias double. In the ninth, Machado doubled to plate Pedro Álvarez, went to third on a wild pitch, then came home on a double from Jones. The O’s still lost by five runs. Final score: Tigers 13, Orioles 8.

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