The Orioles were just happy that Ventura (2-3) was done for the night. He struck out every player in the starting lineup besides Hardy and Flaherty. Of his nine strikeouts, six of his third strikes were fastballs, two curveballs and one an 87-mph changeup to Adam Jones. Ventura struck out Davis on a 98-mph fastball in the first inning and a 99-mph one in the sixth.
Before the game, Showalter predicted it would be another difficult night for his lineup if Ventura was as good as he was in April.
“If he has command of his off-speed pitches tonight, he'll present another challenge,” Showalter said before the game. “It's not just sheer velocity, guys can turn around a bullet up here. … It's the other part of it that really presents a challenge.”
Ventura was impressive, but he left trailing Chen by a run.
Chen (5-2) could get through only 5 1/3 innings, but for the sixth consecutive start allowed three runs or fewer. He hasn't given up more than two runs since April 21 in Boston, when he allowed three. Conversely, Chen has completed six innings just three times in eight starts.
“Overall, it was good,” Chen said of his performance. “It wasn't the best, but the result was pretty good, so I'm happy about it.”
Chen scattered seven hits and a walk while striking out just one batter, his fewest this season. He needed help in the sixth, when he allowed a walk and a single with one out. His relief was sidearmer O'Day, who hadn't pitched the sixth or earlier since June 18, 2013.
O'Day retired all five batters he faced to get the Orioles into the eighth with the lead.
Eventually it became Britton's game to save. And he did it in 12 pitches.
“We're going to use whatever gives us the best chance to win,” Showalter said. “The best chance to put guys in the best spot to be successful and to be healthy. That's the way we are looking at it.”
No, this one was mostly about who the Orioles would use to close out their 2-1 victory over the Royals.
The answer was lefty Zach Britton, who had never had a save in his professional career — not in the minors nor the majors.
And he handled it flawlessly, the way he has pitched this season.
Britton entered to face dangerous lefty Alex Gordon, who grounded out. Then, with lefty killer Danny Valencia at the plate, Orioles manager Buck Showalter stayed with Britton while previous closer Tommy Hunter remained on the bench in the bullpen.
On a full count, the sinkerballing Britton got Valencia to ground out to J.J. Hardy at shortstop.
Britton then fanned Johnny Giavotella then grounded out to Hardy to preserve the win.
In his first chance, Britton posted a perfect inning, something Hunter hasn’t accomplished yet couldn’t accomplish yest this year. Hunter, who had blown two consecutive saves after converting 10 of 11, briefly warmed up in the bullpen in the eighth eight, but never got the call.