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Zach Britton's Streak Ends, But Orioles Win On Manny Machado's Home Run

August 23, 2017
BALTIMORE -- It had to end sometime for Zach Britton. 

The Orioles' All-Star left-handed closer had converted an American League-record 60 consecutive save opportunities. Not since Sept. 20, 2015 had Britton blown a save, but it happened Aug. 23.
 
Britton allowed two runs on three hits in a game the Orioles led by two entering the ninth.
  
Right-hander Miguel Castro, who was away from the team for three days on bereavement leave, pitched 3.2 scoreless innings as Britton was relieved in the middle of the ninth, something that rarely happens.
 
Castro got the win as Manny Machado led off the bottom of the 12th with a home run to left in the Orioles' 8-7 win against the Oakland Athletics before 20,072 at Oriole Park.
 
While the third baseman hit game-ending home runs to start and end the homestand, it was the end of Britton's streak that attracted the attention.
 
"Maybe I'll think about it tomorrow, but I was pretty disappointed," Britton said. "Just wasn't very good at all today. I wish I did my job today. It would've been nice."
 
Britton allowed hits to the first three Oakland hitters in the ninth, then right fielder Matt Joyce hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 7, and the streak was over.
 
"I knew that I didn't have good command and I wasn't making quality pitches, so it was going to be a battle," Britton said. "I didn't make quality pitches today and that's the gist of it really. If you get beat with good pitches, I think it's a different feeling. But, you know, today just wasn't sharp at all from the get-go."

After the game, manager Buck Showalter said Britton would undergo an MRI on his left knee Aug. 24.
 
Britton said he began feeling discomfort in the knee several years ago.
 
"I got my cleats stuck one time in Toronto on their turf, and it's something that was kind of bothering me," Britton said. "I think I pitched through it the last three or four years."
 
Britton said he was going to have it looked at after the season, but team orthopedist Dr. Michael Jacobs encouraged him to look at him sooner.
 
"I don't think it's anything serious, otherwise I wouldn't be able to pitch on it, but I'm going to do that and we'll find out," Britton said.
 
"It's started creeping up maybe a couple of weeks ago. I'm not really sure. Since it's the back knee, it could affect command. I don't think they want to get something where, obviously, I'm over the arm injury, so you don't want it back to get affected again. Kind of where we are in the season, let's get it looked at, 'cause if something needs to happen, get it over with going into next year."
 
Showalter has marveled at the streak.
 
"I just called him in my office and congratulated him. You won't see it again," Showalter said. "That's as good as you'll ever see in any of our lifetimes. It's special, and it's been an honor to watch him do it."

Britton, who missed nearly all of the season's first half with a left forearm injury, hasn't been nearly as dominate this season as he was in 2016, when he converted all 47 of his save chances. But he still converted 11 saves this year and six since his return last month.
 
Britton's streak was second only to Eric Gagne's 84 consecutive saves from Aug. 28, 2002 to July 3, 2004.
 
"There's a part of me that's kind of glad he's got it behind him and we won the game," Showalter said. "That's a heck of a thing to have to live up to every time you cock your arm."

With his homer in the 12th, Machado, who hit a walk-off grand slam Aug. 18, helped the Orioles to their first series win since July 31-Aug. 2. But his heroics were secondary to Britton's achievement.
  
"It was unbelievable, something I'm going to tell my kids I was a part of that, a part of his history," Machado said. "I'm lucky and blessed I get to watch him and play behind him when he goes out there and gets on that mound."
  
NOTES: LHP Vidal Nuno cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. After an off day, the Orioles open a three-game series at Boston Aug. 25. RHP Jeremy Hellickson (1-2, 6.35) will face RHP Rick Porcello (8-14, 4.48).

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox