The Orioles came into today’s third game of the season with their heads held high after beating the Rays in the first two matchups of the series. After a stellar final catch from Nick Markakis to end last night’s game, the O’s were able to string some hits together today behind the arm of LHP Zach Britton and bring home the victory and the sweep by the score of 5-1.
After placing Brian Matusz on the 15 day DL this morning, the Orioles made the official move to call Zach Britton up from the minor leagues to start today’s game. Britton, the Orioles’ top pitching prospect and one of the top two left handed pitching prospects in all of baseball, features a 4 seam fastball, 2 seam fastball (sinker), slider, and change up (as detailed in his scouting report here). He surely brought all four pitches today; especially his sinker that is his make or break pitch and leads to his high ground ball rates.
Britton threw six innings of one run ball, allowing three hits and three walks while striking out six. Throwing 98 pitches, 56 for strikes, he was able to command the zone during his outing and draw five ground ball outs. The one run he allowed came in the third inning when Britton got into an early jam, walking the first two batter of the inning and eventually letting one score on a bunt single by Elliot Johnson.
Wade Davis, who recently signed a contract extension with the Rays, took the mound at Tropicana Field and held the Orioles to one run on four hits, a walk, and three strikeouts. Davis ran into trouble when he came on to start the 7th, allowing the Orioles to score three more runs. Matt Wieters led off the inning with a single followed by an Adam Jones single and a Mark Reynolds RBI double. J.J. Hardy stepped up after Felix Pie grounded out and delivered a 2-RBI double down the left field line.
At this point, Davis’ day was over, as he was replaced by Cesar Ramos, who ended the inning. Jason Berken came on for the Orioles in the bottom of the 7th and struck out three straight batters.
The Orioles bats struck again in the top of the 9th when Adam Jones lead off with a bunt single and was brought home by a Mark Reynolds RBI double. In the bottom of the inning, Spring Training non-roster invitee Josh Rupe came in the game and closed it out for the Orioles, allowing no hits and inducing three ground ball outs.
After sweeping the Rays in St. Petersburg, the Orioles take on the Detroit Tigers tomorrow in the home opener at 3:05 PM. RHP Jake Arrieta will take the mound for the Birds and will face off against Tigers’ RHP Rick Porcello.