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Zach Britton carries strong spring training into regular season

Zach Britton's sinker was filthy during spring training, and it still is through two regular season games.

Buck Showalter said it throughout spring training. Zach Britton’s sinker was so sharp that he was just hoping his closer would be able to keep it going once the season began for real.

Two games in, there are no worries.

Britton’s sinker was absolutely filthy Tuesday, striking out the side in the ninth for his first save of the year. He recorded all three outs on 94 or 95 mph sinkers. He had to throw 23 pitches, more than he would have liked, and he went to a full count on each batter.

But the end result was impressive. He’s now pitched in both of the Orioles' regular season games against Tampa Bay. He has faced seven batters and fanned five. He actually had to get four outs on Monday because a wild pitch on a strikeout allowed the batter to go to first.

“Zach’s been good. He is such a perfectionist, too. I guarantee I’ll walk in [to the clubhouse] now and he’s watching tape or something,” Showalter said after the game. “You always worry a little bit when guys, especially a closer, have that good a spring as Zach’s had. But he’s carried it right over.”

Britton threw nine Grapefruit League innings and allowed just two runs, and both were unearned. He struck out five, walked one and allowed just six hits.

Because he’s never been a closer for a full season – he took over last year in May – there was some question as to how he would fare in 2015 after converting 37 of 41 save chances in 2014.

He’s answered those so far.

Showalter probably would like to stay away from Britton on Wednesday if there is a save situation. He’s now thrown 42 pitches in two games. But Britton is the kind of guy who will lobby to be in there if needed. He – and the team – will have off Thursday, anyway.

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