Britton continues strong spring bid

Top pitching prospect Zach Britton allowed his first earned run this spring, snapping an official 11-inning scoreless streak, when he allowed a third-inning run against the Yankees on Tuesday. That was the only run allowed by the 23-year-old Britton, who continues to make it a difficult decision for the Orioles to send him to Triple-A.

“Obviously I think there’s stuff I can improve on. but me personally I think that’s stuff I can do not just in Triple-A but in the big leagues,”said Britton, who has allowed one run, 14 hits, and four walks in 14 spring innings, striking out nine.

“The stuff I need to work on isn’t hindering from pitching in the big leagues, it’s just about getting experience,” Britton added.  “I feel like I did what I needed to do coming into camp, hopefully I’ll get another start or two and we’ll see what happens.”

As I blogged earlier, it would take at least two injuries for Britton to start the season in Baltimore, since the team would have him under their control for an extra year if he doesn’t come up until the end of April.

“I feel like if I’m one of the best five, hopefully I’ll go [to Baltimore],” said Britton. “I’m not really trying to pay too much attention to [the service time thing]. If I get cut, obviously that will be something that crosses my mind, but right now I’m trying to be one of the best five.”

On Tuesday, Britton scattered six hits and a walk and struck out five in his fourth official spring outing.  (He also threw five innings in a Minor League game last week.) The most impressive part of the 90-pitch start was the top of the fifth inning when Britton hit Melky Mesa and gave up a double to Nick Swisher to put runners on second and third with one out. He proceeded to send Mark Teixiera down on strikes and get Andruw Jones to ground out.

“That was big,”Britton said of getting out of the fifth. “Especially, I’m sure [manager Buck Showalter] wanted to get me up going again too so being able to get out of it make some pitches, to get out of it was pretty big.”

Of the 90 pitches Britton threw, 52 were strikes. He exited after issuing a leadoff walk to Jesus Montero in the sixth and got a nice round of applause from the crowd of 8,347 on hand at Ed Smith Stadium.

*Here’s Chris Tillman’s line from Twins Lakes Park, where he faced the Red Sox High-A team: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 4 Ks. He recorded 22 outs total with some extended innings.

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