CLEVELAND -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter took a calculated risk by giving left-hander Zach Britton the start in Wednesday's series finale in Cleveland. On one hand, Britton pitched marvelously at Triple-A Norfolk of late. But the intensity of pitching in a playoff race is much different.
In the Orioles' 6-4 loss to the Indians, Britton lasted just 2 1/3 innings, allowing four runs in a first inning in which eight batters came to the plate. His 54 pitches were the fewest of any Orioles starting pitcher this season.
"I had a good opportunity," Britton said. "Buck gave me a chance to start a game and help the team, so it's frustrating that I wasn't able to go deep in the game and give us an opportunity to win."
From the first play, it looked like the game sped up on the 25-year-old left-hander.
Chris Davis made a nice backhanded play on Michael Bourn's sharp grounder to first and Britton sped to the bag, but thinking about Bourn's speed more than making the catch, Britton took his eye off the ball and it popped out of his glove.
Leadoff walks are bad, but giving away outs? That's worse. It completely changes the complection of an inning.
"I was leaving the ball up in the zone," Britton said. "Everything was kind of flat. I was behind in the count too, so you mix that together and it wasn't a very good sign. I had the opportunity to not make that inning start. Chris makes a great play and if I'm able to catch that ball right there I don't think that inning happens. It's a nice momentum swing for them to get the leadoff guy on, especially with how fast Bourn is."
From there Britton had his chance to get out of the inning, but the Indians made him pay as Yan Gomes laced an RBI single to right, Ryan Raburn added a two-run, two-out double and Alex Aviles added an RBI single.
"I'm in a situation there where I can leave that inning with just one run and that would have been huge," Britton said "I left a sinker out over the plate [to Gomes] and he hit it. Just make a better pitch and keep it down and I think we're fine. It's just that adjustment I have to make to end the inning rather than coming out here and wishing I got the ball down. Just gotta do it."