It was a tale of two games last night for Zach Britton and the Baltimore Orioles as they saw a 2-0 lead disappear in a three run sixth inning and dropped the series opener against the Cleveland Indians 5-2.
Britton (1-2) was cruising heading into the sixth inning with a 2-0 lead after tossing five scoreless innings while allowing just two hits and striking out five, but the channel had changed on Britton’s outing. Zach would not retire a batter in the sixth as he allowed three runs on four hits and a walk.
Although Britton ended up with the loss on the mound, his outing was certainly one that the Orioles can be optimistic about. His command was superb in the first five innings and his sweeping breaking ball command was even better. Britton was getting ahead of hitters and staying down in the zone, with the exception of the sixth when he started missing up in the zone.
Tommy Hunter came in relief of Britton and was very impressive. He inherited runners on first and second with no outs in the sixth and proceeded to retire the next three batters very quickly to keep it a one run game. Hunter tossed a scoreless seventh as well before Darren O’Day came in to pitch the eighth. O’Day struggled for the second outing in a row as he failed to retire a batter and allowed a two run home run to increase the Orioles deficit to 5-2.
Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters provided the only run scoring offense for the Birds last night as Markakis drilled a solo home run in the bottom of the first to dead centerfield, while Wieters also drilled a solo home run to dead centerfield in the fourth inning.
The two solo homers were all the scoring offense the O’s could muster, but had several chances to tack on runs. Baltimore could not take advantage of their scoring opportunities going just 1-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine runners in the game.
Tonight sets up to be another pitcher’s duel as both teams will be throwing their ace with the Orioles sending Chris Tillman (8-2) to the mound against Cleveland starter Justin Masterson (9-5). With the loss, Baltimore slides back into a tie with the New York Yankees for second in the AL East, 2 ½ games behind the Boston Red Sox.
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