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Orioles' Zach Britton thrives while Darren O'Day struggles as both pitch on back-to-back days for first time this spring

Orioles' Zach Britton thrives while Darren O'Day struggles as both pitch on back-to-back days for first time this spring
Sarasota, FL -- 02/18/2016 -- Baltimore Orioles Vice President of Baseball Operations, Brady Anderson (left) talks with relief pitcher Zach Britton as he throws at the Orioles' spring training facility. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun Staff) [ (KF2_1451.JPG)] (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

The Orioles' two premier relievers — closer Zach Britton and Darren O'Day — experienced vastly different results Thursday as they pitched in games on consecutive days for the first time this season.

Britton, who pitched a scoreless seventh inning and struck out the side for the second time in three appearances this week, continued what's been a dominant spring. He's allowed one earned run in six Grapefruit League innings, striking out 11 and allowing just three hits and a pair of walks.

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But for O'Day, the submariner who this offseason signed a four-year, $31 million deal to remain an Oriole, the latest outing continued what's been a grind. He was charged with three earned runs, though two scored after he left the game.

Entering spring training, manager Buck Showalter joked that Britton was already at a point where he could have been ready for Opening Day when he arrived.

"He was looking forward to today," Showalter said. "Sometimes that second day is better than the first day as a reliever. It's more of a reminder how this role has really fit him in all ways."

"I think I felt good right out of the gate, then I think I went through a little period everyone goes through, a little dead arm period," Britton said. "Your body's just got to get used to playing baseball every day, right? Being on your feet. But the last three outings felt really, really good. So I think physically and mentally, I'm ready to go, but at the same time, I can use the last few innings I have here to work on something."

On Wednesday, O'Day came in with two outs in the fifth inning behind starter Miguel Gonzalez, and allowed a double to Pirates third baseman David Freese before right fielder Starling Marte skied a home run that just made it out in left-center field.

Manager Buck Showalter said the plan was to get him in mid-inning yesterday, then bring him back the next day as he does often during the season. Pittsburgh didn't use power this time, but instead went station to station.

O'Day snapped his glove in frustration after getting squeezed and issuing a one-out walked to Matt Joyce, who promptly stole second base. Then with two outs, Jake Goebbert and Danny Ortiz both softly singled to plate a run and chase O'Day.

The next batter, shortstop Pedro Florimon, tripled down the right field line to score two and leave O'Day with three earned runs on his account.

"Second day, pitches up," Showalter said of O'Day. "Nothing really that hard, just a bunch of singles and deep counts. Nothing that I'm concerned about."

O'Day pitched two shutout innings in a minor league intrasquad game Sunday, but has now allowed runs in his last three appearances in the Grapefruit League, and four of seven overall. He's allowed seven earned runs in six innings pitched, but said in between innings that he would wear the bad results if it meant a chance to work on something that will help in the regular season.

"I think there's times in spring training where you work on things you won't normally do during the season, and see if they're going to work or not, or to brush up on something," O'Day said. "There's been a couple instances where I've done that this spring, and gotten the results that aren't as pretty on paper. I'm going to have the confidence to know and try what does work, but if you're not trying to get better, you're not really giving your full effort."

Those in-game tasks are varied from day to day, but don't much resemble what he does to try to get hitters out come April.

"[I'm] working on repeating pitches in certain locations, throwing maybe different sequences that you wouldn't normally use during the year," he said. "There was times a couple weeks ago where I couldn't throw a slider where I wanted to. I needed that pitch for the season, so there will be some days when I throw that more. Some days I'm facing a hitter and I don't want to give him my best, how I'm going to get him out in the season, so I'm going to throw him something else."

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