Orioles right-hander Brad Brach acknowledged being uncharacteristically excited when he entered Wednesday night's game in the ninth inning in the team’s first save opportunity since closer Zach Britton landed on the disabled list.
A quick one-pitch popout from Reds left fielder Adam Duvall helped, and Brach pitched a perfect ninth on just nine pitches to seal the Orioles’ 2-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.
“I kind of settled down there and got back in a rhythm,” Brach said. “Besides that it felt the same. After I got the first out I felt like I’ve been pitching the rest of the year.”
After retiring Duvall, Brach struck out Eugenio Suarez on three pitches, then needed five pitches to induce a game-ending groundout to first from Scott Schebler.
Brach, who recorded his fourth career save, hasn’t been a closer on a regular basis since 2011, when he was pitching in Double-A in the Padres organization.
But Brach’s emergence as a lockdown setup man – he has now allowed just one hit over seven scoreless innings – makes him the likely choice to receive more save opportunities in Britton’s absence.
“I think Brad’s graduated to the point where he knows he’s pretty good at this and he’s not going to go out there feeling his way around. He’s going to come at you,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Brach said that Showalter hasn’t designated him as the interim closer, and Showalter also had O’Day warming in the eighth inning, so that’s when he thought he might get the opportunity to close.
“Just a little bit there,” Brach said. “Like I said, Buck hasn’t said anything about me or Darren definitely being the closer, but Darren warmed up in the eighth inning and I figured if he wasn’t used there, I most likely would have the ninth. I was just kind of going with the flow of the game and seeing how it worked out.”