xml:space="preserve">

Here's a look at what other media outlets have said about the Orioles in the past week:

• Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tells the story of how dumb luck brought Zach Britton his out pitch.

Advertisement

When Zach Britton(notes) uses his middle finger, it's not an obscenity. It just causes them. Opposing batters punctuate ugly swings and flaccid ground balls and strikeouts with every last morsel of a sailor's vocabulary, and if Britton really wanted to add insult to injury, he would extend his bird as a reminder of what caused that particular at-bat's demise. 

The Baltimore Orioles' 23-year-old rookie starting pitcher has spent the first five weeks of his major league career confounding hitters with one of baseball's rare beasts: the left-handed power sinker. Forget the high heat, the diving splitter, the tilt-a-whirl slider, the whittling cutter, the ACL-tearing curve -- it's the sinker, the workaday pitch almost anyone can learn, that, when mastered, can transform a man into an out-making automaton.

No one throws a sinker like Britton. Actually, the ball isn't even supposed to sink. When he was in Class A, futzing around with different grips like all inquisitive pitchers do, one of his coaches, Calvin Maduro, tried to teach him a cutter. He told Britton to dig his middle finger into the seams, rest his index finger alongside it and throw. The ball was supposed to move in against right-handed hitters. It dove a foot away. 

"I don't know what you're doing," Maduro said. "Just keep doing it."

• ESPN's Jim Bowden writes that Britton, who is 5-2, is leading this year's rookie pitching class.

Britton has one of the best left-handed sinking fastballs in baseball. He throws it 92-94 mph, allowing him to pitch to contact. He has a good slider with late-breaking tilt and a deceptive changeup. His release point is much more consistent than in the past, resulting in better command and control down in the zone. His WHIP is an impressive 1.02 and opponents' batting average against is an impressive .203.

His nasty groundball rate in both minor and major leagues quickly puts him the same category as Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe as one of the best groundball pitchers in baseball. Legitimate, top-of-the-rotation potential for the Orioles for years to come.

• Rob Neyer of SB Nation listed Jeremy Guthrie is one of five losing pitchers who shouldn't be.

Two years ago, Baltimore's Guthrie led the American League with seventeen losses. He was unlucky to some degree, but he also just didn't pitch real well. Or well at all, really. This year he's leading the American League with six losses, but has actually pitched pretty well.

He pitched pretty well last year, but went 11-14 because the Orioles weren't real good. This year he's 1-6 because ... well, because the Orioles aren't real good, but mostly because of poor luck. Guthrie's got a 3.98 ERA and a fine 3.56 strikeout-to-walk ratio, the best of his career.

• MLB.com's Jason Mastrodonato writes that Matt Wieters takes pride in throwing out base runners.

Matt Wieters doesn't just lead the Major Leagues in caught-stealing percentage -- throwing out 54.5 percent (12-for-22) heading into Monday night's game with the Red Sox -- but he's making it difficult for even the fastest baserunners trying to steal on the Orioles this year, manager Buck Showalter said. 

"The difference with Matt is, you hear these things all the time, 'The pitcher should give him a chance to throw out the guy you're supposed to throw out,'" Showalter said. "Matt gives you a chance to throw out the guys -- that in most cases -- you're not supposed to throw out." 

Wieters led the American League with a 31.2 percent caught-stealing ratio last year, throwing out 24 of 77 would-be basestealers. But after an offseason focused on improving his defense even further and working with pitching coach Mark Connor, among others, Wieters has taken it to another level.

Advertisement

USA Today's Gabe Lacques thinks the AL East is the surprise picture of competitive balance.

Since the dawn of this century, the American League East has epitomized competitive imbalance. From 1998 through 2003, in fact, the order of finish -- Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Orioles, [Devil] Rays -- did not change once, and the Yankee-Red Sox domination of the 1-2 spots continued through 2007. 

But this season, something different is brewing. By midweek, we will have exhausted a full quarter of the season. And the most tightly contested division is -- gasp -- the AL East.

[Compiled by Matt Vensel. If you enjoy reading these posts about the Orioles, Ravens and other Baltimore sports, check out Vensel's Coffee Companion posts every morning, Monday-Friday.]

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement