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Did Zach Britton Pitch His Final Game In Baltimore With The Orioles?

July 23, 2017
BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Orioles' just-concluded 10-game homestand will be remembered for its oppressive heat and the team's failure to take advantage of opportunities.

When play resumed after the four-game All-Star break, the Orioles were four games under .500 (42-46). Nine days later and eight days prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, they're right where they were before the pause.

After the Orioles prevented a three-game sweep by the Houston Astros, 9-7, before 21,533 at Oriole Park July 23, the Orioles remained four games below .500 at 47-51.

The Orioles began the homestand with the Chicago Cubs beating them three straight times and outscoring them, 27-11.

After a report indicated the team was amenable to moving their top three relievers left-hander Zach Britton and right-handers Brad Brach and Darren O'Day, the Orioles won four in a row against the Texas Rangers, scoring 31 runs in the last three games.

After losing two of three to the Astros, who have an enormous lead in the American League West, the Orioles would need five wins in six games on their upcoming road trip to Tampa Bay and Texas to even reach .500 by the trade deadline.

"It's still there for us, and that's the way everybody in the clubhouse thinks of it," manager Buck Showalter said.

Right-hander Dylan Bundy allowed a career-high seven runs in 5.1 innings, and the Orioles, who trailed, 7-6, tied it on right fielder Mark Trumbo's 17th home run in the seventh.

They scored two in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Manny Machado and an RBI single by second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who has 70 RBIs.

Mychal Givens pitched the eighth. The right-hander is 7-0 this season and a phenomenal 17-2 in his major league career.

Britton pitched a scoreless ninth for his sixth save, his first since April 14, and his 55th straight successful save, establishing a new American League record. He missed two months with a left forearm injury and since returning pitched seven times without a chance for a save.

"I think it just feels good to put together an outing where I actually felt like I was more myself than anything, I think maybe it took a two-run ballgame to do that," Britton said.

"Just get the focus back off the delivery and trying to be too fine. Just kind of let it rip. It was good to get out there and beat a good team, first off. But I think for the record I think it just shows more so how good of a job Darren and Brad have done in front of me for the last few years. If you really think about it, I couldn't do what I do if they didn't do their job really, really well. So, a lot of that credit goes to them." 

With Britton by far the most attractive reliever possibly on the market, it could have been his final game in Baltimore as an Oriole.

"I guess if you are going to go out, that's a cool way to do it," Britton said. "In front of the home crowd, feeling good and getting a save and a win against a good team. Hopefully it's not the last, but if it is, that would be I guess a good way to go out."

Showalter doesn't sound eager to move Britton.

"It's so hard to simulate that type of emotional situation in a rehab start or even out of the pen in a non-save situation," Showalter said. "It's just completely different adrenaline. He looked like he was in his element there, finally.

"You know, it's been a long haul to get back there. He was the last real piece for us to able to get back and really be able to put what I think is just a really good bullpen if we can get deeper in games. It can be huge for us if that happens because I think the bullpen will be in really good shape. 

ODDS AND ENDS: Adam Jones' second-inning single was the 1,548th of his Orioles career. The center fielder passed Nick Markakis for sixth place on the team's all-time hit list. He had four hits, equaling his career high. … The Orioles open a three-game series at Tampa Bay July 24. Right-hander Kevin Gausman (6-7, 6.11) faces left-hander Blake Snell (0-5, 4.98).