Britton shakier, still stellar
Crichton sent down to make room for Asher
TORONTO — is 5-for-5 on save opportunities this season and continues his climb up the all-time consecutive saves list, but the Orioles closer hasn’t been as dominant as he was during his record-setting 2016 season.
Britton converted save chances on back-to-back nights to start the series in Toronto, closing the game with the winning run on second base Thursday night and he struck out the potential winning run at the plate Friday night.
“I just want everybody to know, you’re seeing historic pitching by him,” Orioles manager
said. “It’s hard to do. Just keep in mind, he’s getting everybody’s best shot. When hitters are able to go up there with house money, they have nothing to lose. Everybody expects them to fail, and to continue to get three outs before they score the amount of runs that have to, it’s not easy.”
Britton has allowed 13 base runners over seven relief innings this season, and has placed multiple runners on base in four of his six outings.
On Friday, he allowed his first run since Aug. 24, ending a streak of 19 scoreless outings.
“It kind of hits you,” Showalter said. “Everybody in that clubhouse knows how hard it is to do what he’s done, so it’s pretty hard to match at any level. I don’t think anybody in our game’s going to match what he did last year and continues to do this year.”
A measure of how dominant Britton has been is the fact that the earned run he allowed Friday was just his second since April 30. Britton pitched 411⁄3 innings over 43 appearances without an earned run before allowing one Aug. 24.
“He’s set a standard that I don’t think you’ll see in your lifetime,” Showalter said. “It just won’t happen. I tend to try to enjoy it and watch it and realize how lucky I and we are to have a seat to watch it instead of trying to critique it every night. It’s hard to do. If the fans and people think they have higher expectations of him, they’re not higher than Zach Britton. I can tell you that.”
This season, opponents are getting to Britton more often, batting .385 against his heavy sinking fastball after hitting just .157 against the pitch last season.
Britton’s save Friday gave him 54 straight converted opportunities, which ties him for second place on the all-time consecutive saves list with
record of 84 consecutive saves is still in the distance, but Showalter made it clear Saturday that he believes Gagne’s mark shouldn’t count.
Since retiring, Gagne has admitted to using human growth hormone during his career.
“Gagne doesn’t count,” Showalter said. “So [really] Zach is tied for first, OK? Really, that doesn’t have an asterisk next to it?” Crichton’s brief stay carries importance: The Orioles optioned right-hander
on Saturday morning to call up right-hander from Triple-A Norfolk to start Saturday afternoon’s game.
Crichton was in the Orioles bullpen the previous two nights, but didn’t enter a game. He was warming before the ninth inning in Friday’s 6-4 win, but Britton pitched the ninth because it was a save situation.
“He got a nice blood flow down there a couple times,” Showalter said. “That was good. I asked [bullpen coach] ‘How’d it go down there?’ And he said he was fine. He seemed like he’ll be a guy who is in control of his emotions. I wanted to get him in a game. Came close a couple times.”
Showalter said he wants to keep Crichton pitching, but added that he might be back with the big league club sooner than he thinks. Gentry finds way to contribute: One of the main reasons the Orioles placed outfielder
on their Opening Day roster was that he added baserunning speed the club didn’t have last season.
But Gentry hadn’t been able to use that ability until the ninth inning of Saturday’s 2-1 loss because he had yet to get on base, opening the season hitless in 12 plate appearances.
But Gentry was a factor Saturday by scoring the tying run on a sacrifice fly after stealing a base and moving up on a flyout.
The Orioles aren’t known for manufacturing runs, but they also haven’t had a base-running weapon like Gentry.
“That’s the first time,” Showalter said. “I was talking to him a day or two ago because I know he hasn’t had the opportunity to show what he can bring and today was a good example of the way he can impact a game, especially if you’ve got the guts to run there.” Around the horn:
received his first start of the season Saturday, going 0-for-3 while filling in for shortstop
whom Showalter wanted to give a day off this series to ensure that he didn’t play all four games on the Rogers Centre turf. … Showalter said he is considering giving a day off from first base today and allowing him to be the designated hitter, also with the turf in mind . ... Players on both teams all wore No. 42 on Saturday for Jackie Robinson Day. The orange jerseys the Orioles wore Saturday will be auctioned on MLB.com through Saturday.