Orioles closer Zach Britton saw his major league-record streak of 43 straight appearances without allowing an earned run come to an end Wednesday, just as quickly as he had to warm up and get into the game itself.
Britton warmed up quickly with just a few bullpen tosses after rookie Parker Bridwell served up a tension-raising grand slam to Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy that made it 10-7 Orioles, and had thrown all of five pitches by the time right fielder Bryce Harper singled and scored on a double by third baseman Anthony Rendon.
“Well, you’ve got to be ready, right?” Britton said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. I was a little bit caught off guard, but I felt pretty good once I got in the game. Just everything that happened — the home run by Murphy, get going. I just really didn’t make good pitches tonight, really, all the way through. I think I threw maybe one good pitch, and that was about it.”
Britton hurt his own cause when fielding a comebacker by Wilson Ramos and trying to get Rendon out going back to second base, and ended up with the winning run at the plate in a 10-8 game before Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman grounded into a game-ending double play.
“I was getting frustrated, but it happens,” Britton said. “A bad outing. I’ve had plenty. You’ve just got to execute pitches there. They’re a good hitting team, and right off the bat, I just didn’t make any good pitches. I just need to keep the ball down, and I wasn’t able to. I got fortunate even on the double-play ball. It wasn’t crisp, but I got fortunate right there.”
Britton’s streak began on May 5 and gained acclaim as it built. With it, buzz grew around his jaw-dropping season. His ERA grew from 0.53 to 0.69 with the run allowed, but he’s still 38-for-38 on save chances, not earning his 39th on Wednesday because he entered with less than three outs remaining and the tying run not on deck at the time.
The personal statistics haven’t been something Britton has allowed himself to get wrapped up in this season, and once the record-setting streak ended, he was glad to have something more pressing to worry about.
“You’re not even thinking about that,” Britton said. “You’re thinking, ‘Hey, let’s get out of this inning and get a win.’ Those losses right there, when the team’s able to get back from such a big deficit, those are devastating. When you’re out there, you’re just trying to make a good pitch and get out of the inning. I knew we had an out, so find a way. Fortunately, we got the win.”