Zach Britton optioned; Steve Johnson to make first big league start Wednesday

August 08, 2012|By Dan Connolly

Coming off a nearly five-hour, 14-inning, comeback win on Tuesday, the Orioles  don’t have much time to rebound.

And they need some reinforcements.

So the club recalled right-hander Steve Johnson from Triple-A Norfolk, and he will start Wednesday against the Seattle Mariners and former Oriole Kevin Millwood.

Johnson will be taking the place of Tommy Hunter, who was scheduled to start but had to warm up in the bottom of the 14th Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.

Hunter will be available out of the bullpen, but he won’t be asked to pitch as long as a starter normally would.   

To make room for Johnson, the club optioned Tuesday’s starter, Zach Britton, back to Triple-A Norfolk.

There might be at least one other move made as well on Wednesday.

Infielder Ryan Flaherty is dealing with tonsillitis and could be placed on the disabled list. The move could be retroactive to Aug. 2 – since Flaherty hasn’t played since Aug. 1. It would allow the Orioles to get at least one more bullpen arm here for the short term.

Johnson, a Baltimore native, St. Paul’s graduate and son of former Oriole pitcher and current MASN broadcaster Dave Johnson, will be making his first big league start. His lone major-league appearance came July 15 at home against Detroit. He allowed one hit – a Miguel Cabrera homer – in two innings.

At Norfolk this year, Johnson is 4-8 with a 2.86 ERA in 19 games (14 starts). The 24-year-old allowed 66 hits and 31 walks while striking out 86 batters. He’s on regular, four-days' rest.

Meanwhile, Britton’s brief time in the majors has come to an end for now. On Tuesday, he allowed eight hits and four walks in five innings, giving up seven runs (four earned). Britton permitted four earned runs or more and failed to get through six innings in four of his five Orioles’ starts this season.

He threw just 48 of his 87 pitches for strikes Tuesday and served up two more homers, for five in his last three games. In those three starts, he’s allowed 17 earned runs in 13 1/3 innings, for an 11.48 ERA. This season he has an 8.10 ERA. 

In another Orioles pitching note, Jake Arrieta had a rough start for Norfolk on Tuesday. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings against Gwinnett (the Atlanta Braves' affiliate).

Arrieta was blasted for five earned runs on eight hits and three walks. Again, his pitch count was way too high – he threw 80 pitches (48 for strikes) without getting out of the fourth.

Arrieta now has a 4.85 ERA in five starts at Norfolk after posting a 6.13 ERA in 18 starts for the Orioles this year.

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