BALTIMORE -- Closer Zach Britton, making his first appearance since last September due to an offseason Achilles injury, showed rust in his 2018 debut in the Orioles' 6-4 loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday night.Entering with the Orioles trailing, 6-2, in the top of the seventh, the lefty trade
BALTIMORE -- Closer Zach Britton, making his first appearance since last September due to an offseason Achilles injury, showed rust in his 2018 debut in the Orioles' 6-4 loss to the Red Sox on Tuesday night.
Entering with the Orioles trailing, 6-2, in the top of the seventh, the lefty trade commodity walked Boston first baseman Mitch Moreland to begin the inning, but Britton was bailed out when catcher Austin Wynns nabbed Moreland trying to take second on a wild pitch. Britton then walked Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts on six pitches.
After striking out Boston third baseman Rafael Devers on four pitches, Britton gave up a third walk to Red Sox second baseman Brock Holt, this time on just four pitches. Britton eventually got Christian Vazquez to ground out to third to end the inning. It is the first time in Britton's relief career that he walked three batters in an inning.
"It was good to get into a game," Britton said after the loss. "Obviously, I was overthrowing everything I think I threw today. Just excited. Moving fast. Just hope to settle in the next time I get on the mound. Improve every time I get a chance to pitch.
"But like I said, I think I'll settle in. And my command was good on the rehab assignment. I hadn't walked anybody and then I walked three tonight. I think settling in is the biggest thing and getting comfortable again. It had been a long time since I was out there, and I felt like a little kid again."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter attributed Britton's rocky debut to the adrenaline of pitching in Camden Yards for the first time in nine months, but Showalter also labeled Britton's return in and of itself a win for both the closer and training staff.
"He was so amped up. There was a big rush going on there," Showalter said. "He was spiking balls and felt great. He had the one ground ball down the first-base line, ended up going foul that he broke over on. I asked after the inning and he said, 'I didn't think about it.' That's a good sign.
"I'm really happy for Zach, but as much so for [head athletic trainer] Brian Ebel and [Minor League rehab coordinator] Dave Walker and all the people that put in so much time and effort. … That's the culmination of a lot of hard work, most of all by Zach."
Zachary Silver** is a reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore.