BALTIMORE — Orioles lefty Zach Britton felt his pitches were working so well Monday night that he could last deep into the evening, save his bullpen and pick up his second consecutive win.
Instead, things inexplicably snowballed on Britton and the Orioles in the sixth inning, and by the time he walked off the mound, the Orioles were on their way to a 5-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians and their fourth consecutive defeat.
“[My stuff] was good, but you’d like to carry that six, seven innings, so it’s not good,” said Britton, who allowed five consecutive Indians to reach base in the sixth. “I’m not happy with it unless I am carrying it deep into a game, especially the way the bullpen has been used lately. So I wanted to give the guys some innings, and I felt like I had a good chance to do that today, but I wasn’t able to make that big pitch to get out of the sixth inning.”
The Orioles (42-35) are in the midst of their second longest losing skid of the season; they dropped a season-high six in mid-May.
When the Orioles were swept last weekend in Toronto, they had the built-in excuse that they were playing the hottest club in the majors in the Blue Jays. It didn’t get a whole lot easier with the Indians (39-36), who have won nine of their past 12 games.
Britton, making just his third big league start of the season and first at Camden Yards in 2013, was coming off a strong one-run performance against the mighty Detroit Tigers last Tuesday. Orioles manager Buck Showalter thought Britton’s pitches Monday — specifically his sinker and curveball — were sharper than they were in Detroit.
“I thought he had a little better stuff. He lost command of it in the sixth inning,” Showalter said. “You’ve got a team that’s playing well in Cleveland. . . . He wasn’t able to perform at the same level after the fifth inning.”
Before an announced crowd of 18,544, Britton (1-2) had allowed just two singles and struck out a season-high five batters through five scoreless innings.
Cleveland second baseman Jason Kipnis led off the sixth with a double to right, and Nick Swisher followed with a RBI single up the middle for Cleveland’s first run. Carlos Santana then doubled, former Orioles slugger Mark Reynolds was intentionally walked on a 3-0 count to load the bases and Michael Brantley slapped a curveball up the middle for a two-run single.
“I kind of went away from my best pitch,” said Britton, who likely will remain in the rotation for at least his next scheduled start against the New York Yankees. “I probably should have let [Brantley] beat me on a sinker. I kind of dumped a curveball in, and he hit it back up the box.”
— Baltimore Sun