BALTIMORE -- Buck Showalter was adamant. The Orioles manager said Zach Britton was going to pitch the ninth inning of the game, no matter what.
The Orioles had taken a 7-6 lead against the Seattle Mariners Aug. 28, and after sidearmer Darren O'Day pitched a scoreless eighth, Britton, who hadn't pitched since blowing his first save Aug. 23 after 60 consecutive successful ones, was back on the mound in the ninth.
A day before, Britton didn't warm up, as right-hander Brad Brach got the final five outs during a 2-1 win against the Boston Red Sox. Afterward, Showalter said the left-hander was unavailable.
"We felt like if we could get one more day that he'd be a pitcher for us tomorrow," Showalter said.
Said Britton: "I was ready yesterday, just didn't pitch. Threw a bullpen early in the morning yesterday, felt good, so I was ready to go yesterday. Just a normal member of the bullpen right now."
Britton pitched a scoreless ninth against the Mariners, striking out one, walking one and getting a game-ending double play.
"It just takes some patience to, for instance, not use him yesterday or the day before and let stuff take its course," Showalter said after the game. "It's just the patience. It's hard this time of year to have that. We all know what Zach's capable of doing. … We know what he's capable of because you've got a track record with him. But Zach will be the first to tell you tonight was tonight and tomorrow is tomorrow. Just hope we get another situation for him."
After the blown save, Britton underwent an MRI on his left knee the next day. Nothing significant was found. After the failed save, Britton said he had been dealing with discomfort in the knee since 2014 when he began relieving.
"This knee issue's been something I had since '14, so it's not anything new to us inside the clubhouse or the medical staff, so we're not going to treat it any different than we have the last few years," Britton said.
From July 23-Aug. 21, the Orioles had six save chances, with Britton recording all of them. In 2016, Britton was 47-for-47 in save opportunities.
"It's been tough. I haven't had a lot of save opportunities," Britton said. "Me and Buck were just talking about how last year's schedule was probably the smoothest schedule I could get. I barely had three days off. I was pitching a lot in situations I normally pitch in, where this year, it's been, I think for a while, we won by a lot or lost by a lot, not a whole lot of rhythm, for sure."
Britton appeared in six other games in non-save situations from July 23-Aug. 21, and it seemed like Showalter was holding him back.
"I think so. I think at times, he's cautious about guys," Britton said. "He doesn't want to hurt guys, which is a good trait, obviously. There's managers that would run guys out there when they know they shouldn't, and Buck's not one of those guys. You appreciate that as a player. He doesn't want to hurt you, but sometimes you just want to get out there.
"At the end of the day, I respect his authority as the manager, and if he decides he doesn't want to put me in the game, then that's the call, and you go with it."