Reporting Mark Viviano
Zach Britton is not supposed to be in the Major Leagues yet, and the Baltimore Orioles aren’t expected to be a first place team. What’s supposed to be just isn’t reality right now. Britton’s not only a big leaguer- he’s looking like he could be the best pitcher on a surprising Orioles team that’s turning heads with a sizzling start in the 2011 season.
The kid looks like the real deal. I watched his second Major League start from the press box at Camden Yards as the 23-year old lefty pitched with the poise of a veteran and shut down the previously unbeaten Texas Rangers and their potent line-up of hitters (Saturday, April 9- Game 1 of a doubleheader). Using his sinker and an effective change-up, Britton went 7 2/3 scoreless innings in a 5-0 Orioles win. He said after his brilliant outing: “I feel really comfortable. I’m only nervous before the game but I feel fine when I get out on the mound.”
Add his win against Texas to his debut victory 6 days earlier at Tampa Bay and Britton’s career is off to quite a start: 13 2/3 innings, 1 earned run, 7 hits, 6 walks and 8 strikeouts.
His first start at Camden Yards brought the fans to their feet for a rousing ovation when Britton was replaced by reliever Jason Berken in the 8th inning. “They got loud. I got goose bumps,” Britton said afterward.
Those goose bumps are contagious and the fans are getting them, too. Orioles management laid out it’s blue print for reconstruction with the motto of “Grow the arms and buy the bats.” There appears to be great growth potential in Zach Britton and expectations will grow along with each of his outings that look like what he’s done so far.