Zach Britton Strong Start Bright Spot for Ailing OriolesApr 27th, 2011 | By Roy Rasmussen | Category: Sports
The last-place Baltimore Orioles may only have nine wins so far this season, but nearly half of those came from a record April performance by rookie left-handed pitcher Zach Britton. Britton became the first rookie starter in Oriole history to win four games in April with a 4-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox Tuesday before a crowd of nearly 19,000.
Britton’s career was nearly cut short in high school when he dove into a light pole headfirst trying to catch a foul popup during batting practice. He had to be rushed to intensive care with a skull fracture, brain bleeding, and a broken collarbone. But he recovered to become an all-state outfielder and a third-round 2006 draft pick for the Orioles. He was initially considered the Orioles’ third-best prospect.
Britton has exceeded expectations wildly. Originally scheduled to pitch Triple A this year, he was called upon the third day of the season to replace injured pitcher Brian Matusz in the starting rotation. He shut down the Tampa Bay Rays on their home field 5-1 in his major league debut, allowing one run and three hits in six innings.
Since then Britton has gone 4-1, beating Texas, Minnesota, and Boston, with only a loss against Cleveland marring his record. After five games he has given up an average of five hits a game, and has an earned run average of 2.84.
Tuesday’s victory brought the Orioles to 9-12, one game closer to Boston, who remain ahead at 10-12. The New York Yankees lead the AL East at 12-8. Tampa Bay and Toronto trail at 11-11 and 11-12 respectively, making it a close race for second place in the division.