MINNEAPOLIS — Few would have guessed it would have taken until mid-July for Orioles left-hander Zach Britton to make his first major league start of the season.
Britton finally made his 2012 Orioles debut Tuesday in Minnesota after spending the season strengthening his left shoulder in Sarasota, Fla., and working on his mechanics at Class AAA Norfolk.
With Baltimore’s starting rotation in disarray, Britton had the opportunity to give Orioles fans a much-needed dose of optimism. He spoke Monday about having renewed confidence and working with pitching development director Rick Peterson to refine his mechanics.
But that optimism quickly deflated at Target Field on Tuesday night. The 24-year-old Britton issued a career-high six walks and couldn’t get an out in the fifth inning, contributing to the Orioles blowing a three-run lead to the Twins in a 6-4 loss to Minnesota.
Above all, the Orioles needed innings from Britton, but he lasted just three batters into the fifth, placing an already-overworked Baltimore bullpen into extra service.
Britton, who pitched to a 2.14 ERA in his final three outings at Norfolk, struggled with his control all night. He left the game with the bases loaded after issuing back-to-back walks to Josh Willingham and Justin Morneau, but still led 4-1.
And Britton was forced to watch the Orioles’ night unravel from the dugout. Reliever Luis Ayala allowed all three inherited runs to score on Ryan Doumit’s two-run single and Brian Dozier RBI single to tie the game.
On the night, Britton was charged with four earned runs on six hits over four-plus innings with just one strikeout. He threw 100 pitches, just 54 of them strikes.
— Baltimore Sun