SARASOTA, Fla. – The Boston Red Sox, because they have another game at night in Fort Myers, brought no regulars here for Friday’s contest against the Orioles.
The Orioles sent starter Miguel Gonzalez to pitch against minor leaguers so he wouldn’t face an American League East team.
It's typical stuff for mid-March, but the gamesmanship handed lefty Zach Britton a start. And he took advantage of the opportunity in the Orioles’ 3-3 tie against the Red Sox.
Britton, who is fighting for the fifth starter spot, lasted 3 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up one hit and walking two, with both walks coming in his final frame.
“I feel good. Slowed at the finish line a little bit, hadn’t gone more than two, so the adrenaline’s pumping a little bit,” said Britton, who has allowed two earned runs in 8 2/3 Grapefruit League innings (not including a rough outing against Spain's World Baseball Classic team). “I tried to overdo it that last inning with the two walks a little bit, but other than that I felt pretty good.”
Hitting up to 93 mph with his fastball, Britton’s sinker was particularly strong, with six outs coming via ground balls.
“I think when I overthrow it, I bounce it a lot and today I tried to stay easy with it, and let the action do the work and I got some good swings on it,” Britton said. “You can tell when they’re hitting in the ground whether it’s doing its thing or not.”
The fact it was the Red Sox ‘B’ lineup didn’t bother Britton.
“I don’t think it matters. You can’t control who they bring or who they don’t bring,” he said. “It’s spring training. There’s obviously going to be guys in there who may be in the big leagues or not, but they all have a bat in their hands, and they all can do damage.”
The Red Sox scored first Friday when outfield prospect Bryce Brentz had a solo homer against reliever Luis Ayala in the fifth. The Orioles tied it up in the bottom of the inning when Brian Roberts’ bloop single scored Nate McLouth, who had doubled.
Boston broke the tie in the 10th against Orioles farmhand Clayton Schrader, who allowed two runs. Juan Carlos Linares had a solo homer for the Red Sox and they scored another when first baseman Steve Pearce couldn’t catch a pop-up in shallow right.
Ryan Flaherty then hit a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, leading to the tie.
With that, the Orioles are now 11-5-2 in Grapefruit League action this spring.
Around the horn
Buck Showalter does not expect to make any more roster cuts until after Sunday’s games. Showalter will manage the Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium on Sunday while bench coach John Russell manages the split-squad team that plays against the Philadelphia Phillies. Pitching coach Rick Adair will also will be with the split-squad team so he can watch Jason Hammel pitch. …Steve Johnson will start the game in Sarasota. … Right fielder Nick Markakis (neck) has two to three more days using Dosepak medication before meeting with doctors again. … Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez pitched in a Double-A game at Twin Lakes Park on Friday, partially to avoid pitching against an American League East rival. Showalter said Gonzalez reportedly looked good and had no issues. … Right-hander Chris Tillman, who is dealing with abdomen soreness, threw a bullpen session Thursday and felt no discomfort. He will throw two innings in minor league camp at Twin Lakes on Saturday. Wei-Yin Chen will pitch in a minor league game there Monday, which is an Orioles off-day. … Brian Matusz will start Tuesday’s game in Fort Myers against the Red Sox. … Roberts stole his first base of the spring Friday, and he did it with a head-first dive into second base — a good sign for someone who has dealt with concussion issues in the past. … Friday’s attendance was 8,100, the third sellout of the spring at Ed Smith Stadium.