BALTIMORE -- Zach Britton (Anglada) learned of the trade rumors connecting him to the Yankees during a July 24 game at Camden Yards, a deal that was consummated just before midnight. That did not leave nearly enough time for proper goodbyes to the Orioles personnel who had been a large part of his life for more than a decade.
The left-hander rekindled some of those relationships prior to Friday's series opener, as Britton briefly popped into the home clubhouse to exchange pleasantries before making an unfamiliar walk to the visiting digs on the third-base side. Pitching against his former club proved to be just as odd.
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"It was weird," Britton said after recording the final three outs of a 7-5, 10-inning win, serving up a Chris Davis (Crush) homer but nailing down his first save as a Yankee. "Obviously it was nice to get into a save situation, but definitely weird facing the guys who I've been with for so long."
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Britton allowed a leadoff single to Adam Jones (La Gente), then induced Trey Mancini (Boomer) to ground into a double play. Davis launched a long homer over the wall in center field, but Britton recovered by getting Timothy Beckham (Swaggy) to roll a routine ground ball to first base for the final out. Yankees manager Aaron Boone said Britton's stuff was "electric."
"We've seen a few good outings in a row from him," Boone said. "I thought the stuff might have even ticked up a little bit. It looked like we saw 96-97 [mph] and when he was down it was that electric sinker."
Britton's connections to the O's won't be quickly severed -- he said that he'd already received a text message from Davis -- and that his thoughts during the day had drifted to his April 3, 2011, big league debut, as well as the Orioles' playoff runs and some of his 139 saves in a Baltimore uniform.
An All-Star in 2015 and '16, Britton particularly wanted to make time to see some of the O's front office and training staff. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he was certain Britton would be received positively, and he was, doffing his cap when a video thanking Britton for his service was played early in the game.
"We have great fans, very knowledgeable, and they know what Zach did here and has done here and will continue to do for quite a while in his career," Showalter said. "He's in a good place. He's strong as a horse. He's healthy. He's going to be a real weapon for them as they go forward. I don't think anybody looks forward to seeing Zach come in against them."
Britton's season started slowly as he recovered from offseason surgery on his right Achilles tendon, but he posted a 3.45 ERA and four saves in 16 outings for the O's, convincing the Yankees to acquire Britton in exchange for pitchers Cody Carroll (CC), Josh Rogers and Dillon Tate.
At the time, the Yankees wanted Britton to bolster their middle relief and setup crew. With closer Albertin Chapman having landed on the disabled list this week, Boone has said he can envision Britton sharing closing duties with Dellin Betances (El Acido) and Player Page for David Robertson (D-Rob).
Britton has logged a 5.56 ERA in 12 appearances for the Yankees and said he has been trying to adjust to his new role. He would welcome an opportunity to continue trying his hand as the Yankees' closer while Chapman recuperates.
"I felt good on those pitches [Friday], getting a double-play ball and things like that," Britton said. "I'm getting close. I think the more I get out in there in those situations, the faster it's going to come."