Baltimore, MD- If there was any question whether Baltimore Orioles rookie Zach Britton (2-0) was the real deal among the Orioles fans, the first game of a Saturday doubleheader was further proof that Britton could have a bright future in Baltimore.
In his second game of the season Britton was able to stifle a Texas Rangers offense that averages seven runs a game, allowing no runs and striking out two on the day to hand the Rangers their first loss of the 2011 season with a 5-0 victory. Britton also held the Rangers hitless for the first four innings before outfielder Nelson Cruz singled to shallow right field in the fifth inning, only for Cruz to be victim of a Mike Napoli double play. As Britton tempered the Rangers bats, he was especially impressive to Rangers manager Ron Washington.
"You have to give him credit. He did a good job for a young kid." Washington said.
With Britton on the mound, the Orioles offense made an immediate impact in the first inning with outfielder Nick Markakis hitting a solo homerun in deep right field off of Rangers starter Colby Lewis (1-1). Markakis' homerun continued a streak of 14 straight games since last season that he has reached on base as well as providing the only go ahead that the Orioles needed.
After Lewis gave up a single to outfielder Luke Scott and Adam Jones reaching on error to first base in the second inning, Orioles third baseman Mark Reynolds hit his first homerun as an Oriole with a shot that was estimated at 422 feet in deep left field.
As the Rangers looked to continue their undefeated record to seven, they resembled less of a defending American League champions in this game than they have all season long. It wasn't until the seventh inning with two outs that Britton allowed a single player to reach second base after Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba hit a double and then reach third base after a Julio Borbon single. As Orioles manager Buck Showalter walked to the mound to relieve Britton, the fans began to cheer and give Britton a standing ovation before Showalter barely made it pass the base path.
After the game, Britton gave a modest interview to a round of reporters to the point of barely taking credit for his performance and instead pointing out that he left a runner at first and third for reliever Jason Berken to keep from scoring. Britton was nonetheless happy that the Orioles won.
"I think we showed we can compete with a good team. We played really good baseball today, and that's what this is all about, playing good baseball," he added. "What I did was just icing on the cake."
Other Notes: Prior to the first game, pitcher Brad Bergesen was optioned to Norfolk to make room for right hander Chris Jakubauskas. When asked for his feelings on the demotion, Bergesen replied with only No comment.
Since last August, the Orioles have been 17-4 in series openers when Showalter took over the team.