Britton authors another impressive performance in Orioles' 14-9 win over Tigers

In last spring start, he allows 2 runs in 6 innings

Scott has 2 HRs, 7 RBIs

March 28, 2011|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

SARASOTA, Fla. — On a day when the Orioles' offense was getting contributions from everyone, top prospect Zach Britton made one final statement that he's ready for the major leagues.

Britton will have to wait to prove it again, if only for a couple of weeks. Expected to be reassigned to minor league camp shortly, the young left-hander went six strong innings to cap a great spring and left fielder Luke Scott hit two home runs and drove in seven in the first two innings of the Orioles' 14-9 victory over the Detroit Tigers in front of a sellout crowd of an announced 7,617 at Ed Smith Stadium.

In improving to 15-14-2 in Grapefruit League play, the Orioles scored 12 runs off Tigers starter Max Scherzer in just 2 1/3 innings. They scored four in the first, five in the second and four in the third in their penultimate Grapefruit League game.

Scott hit a grand slam in the first inning and a three-run shot in the second inning. He entered the contest with two homers and six RBIs in 16 spring games.

Leadoff man Brian Roberts went 3-for-4 with an RBI, three runs and a stolen base in improving his spring average to .371. Nick Markakis went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and is now batting .377. Vladimir Guerrero was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, raising his average to .365 and his RBI total to 19. Jake Fox added his 10th homer in the second inning, a solo shot that landed on the roof of a concessions building beyond the left-field fence.

Meanwhile, Britton was in cruise control until some trouble in the fourth and fifth innings. He allowed two runs on eight hits and one walk while striking out four in six innings.

His best sequence came in the second inning, when he struck out superstar Miguel Cabrera and Ryan Raburn looking, allowed a single to Casper Wells (Towson University) and fanned Brandon Inge to end the inning.

"In the fourth inning, I was trying to do a little bit too much, but I was happy to minimize damage in both [the fourth and fifth] innings, and I think that's big, too," Britton said. "I thought that was a real good test, and I thought I did pretty well."

Britton, 23, finished the spring with a 1.35 ERA over five appearances (four starts). He allowed three earned runs, 22 hits and five walks, striking out 13 over 20 innings.

He clearly was the Orioles' most effective starter this spring, but the club wants to delay his start in the big leagues to conserve one year of service time.

If Britton gets promoted after April 20, he'll be under contractual control for almost seven full seasons instead of the normal six.

"It's very frustrating," Britton said. "As an athlete, you compete and you feel like you deserve to be somewhere, and you are not; it's kind of a slap in the face, I think. But there's a business side of the game, and those guys are hired to go out there and make business decisions. I go out there to pitch and do it well. Like I said, it's frustrating, but it is what it is. I got to take what they are going to give me after this game."

Britton said he wouldn't sulk if he were sent down.

"Yeah, I mean I was in this situation last year, too, in September," he said. "I've been through this a couple different times, so I kind of know how to handle it. I'm not the type of guy that's going to go out there and complain about where I am. I'm not going to like it, but I'll go out there and pitch because it doesn't help me or the organization if I go down to Triple-A and pout. I'm not going to get up here any quicker. I need to go out there and get people out whether I'm in Norfolk or Baltimore. But, obviously, I'd be a little happier if I'm in Baltimore."

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