At least this time while the Orioles were taking another loss they also saw the return of closer Zach Britton to the mound. He had Achilles surgery in December and the long road back to a big league mound culminated with his appearance in the seventh inning in last night’s 6-4 loss to Boston.
Pitching for the first time in the majors since Sept. 18, 2017, Britton threw just 11 of 26 pitches for strikes and he walked three. He somehow managed to not give up a run. He did not get charged with a wild pitch when he threw one past catcher Austin Wynns, but saw Wynns play the carom off the back wall and throw a runner out at second base.
It was a wild ride indeed. But still, Britton was back, rusty or not.
But his usual velocity was not. A pitcher who averages 97 mph with his two-seamer, Britton averaged 94.1 mph last night, topping at 95.8. But Britton said there is no cause for alarm or concern about that.
“Throughout the rehab assignment I was kind of right around there (with my velocity),” Britton said. “We have my spring training velocities from the last spring trainings. It you look at where I am at innings-wise, about six innings total right now, that is consistent with where I would be at this time. So, it slowly increases as we go along and I start pushing nine or 10 innings. It’s about command more than anything. The velocity will get there as I slow my body down and start using my body the right way. Any low velocity right now is moreso (about) mechanics.”
Updating the RISP stat: At times this year the O’s struggles to score runs has been mirrored by their struggles to hit with runners in scoring position. Of course, the two are somewhat related. For the second night in a row they stranded 13 runners and went 2-for-13 with RISP last night.
The numbers in recent games is really bad in this regard -
* Over the last six games, the Orioles are 3-for-48 (.063) with RISP.
* Over the last 13 games, the Orioles are 8-for-80 (.100) with RISP.
* Over the last 25 games, the Orioles are 23-for-162 (.142) with RISP.
The 2017 Orioles hit .287 with RISP to rank second in the AL to Houston at .294. But this year’s club is batting .216 in this stat to rank 13th in the AL.
Hearing from the top pick: With the business part out of the way - the signing bonus amount agreed to and his physical passed - prep right-hander Grayson Rodriguez seemed to very much enjoy his first day as an official member of the Orioles organization.
The Orioles introduced the 6-foot-5 pitcher from Nacogdoches, Texas yesterday at a Camden Yards press conference. They drafted him No. 11 overall June 4 and it didn’t take long at all for the sides to agree to a signing bonus of $4.3 million, which was just under the listed slot amount of $4,375,100 for that pick.
Rodriguez said he thought the business side would indeed move fast.
“I did,” he said. “I was ready to play. So, you know, the Orioles worked with us perfectly. There were no, I guess you could say, roadblocks or anything. Everything was just smooth.”
Orioles scouting director Gary Rajsich said Rodriguez allowed just 21 hits and two earned runs in 75 innings this season with 17 walks, 156 strikeouts and a .187 batting average against.
Rodriguez seems to have plenty of confidence, but it doesn’t border on cockiness. He believes he’s very ready for the challenge of pro ball.
“Yes sir. Baseball is a very humbling game,” the newest Oriole said. “It can humble you in a heartbeat. You need to be thankful that you get to play. God and my parents - they allow me to play this game. I feel like God could take it away anytime he wants. I’m just happy to play this game when I can and just respect it at the same time.”
Today he’s off to Florida.
“I’m going to Sarasota, the Gulf Coast League,” Rodriguez continued. “I’m going to talk with player development and see what I need to be doing the rest of the summer and then going up into the offseason. Sit down and get a plan worked out. Get everything lined up and go after it.
“Definitely (have to do) lots of learning. I’ve excited about that too. Talked to some of the coaches and guys in the organization. There is still a lot to learn about the game and you can never stop learning.”
During last night’s game the Orioles announced the signings of 14 more draft picks, bringing their total to 15 now signed. Last night they added: OF Robert Neustrom (5), LHP Kevin Magee (9), RHP Dallas Litscher (10), RHP Parker McFadden (16), RHP Jake Zebron (18), INF Ian Evans (26), LHP Jason Montville (27), C Jared Denning (29), RHP Tyler Joyner (30), LHP Jayvien Sandridge (32), INF Zach McLeod (33), OF Trey Truitt (34), C Matt Beaird (36), RHP Andrew Ciolli (37).