Many words have been written here about the wisdom of calling up Zach Britton to get his major league debut in this game. I think we can all agree that whether or not you like the move, we want to see Britton succeed. Britton, the Orioles' 3rd-round pick and 85th overall selection in the 2006 draft, signed with the O's out of a Texas HS for a $435,000 bonus instead of going to college, and lucky for us that he did, because he has consistently been a great prospect. Today we find out what he's got.
In an interview with Gary Thorne before last night's game, Britton described himself as being a pitcher who is not afraid of getting contact. His pitches have the kind of sink that can produce incredible ground ball:fly ball ratios, so if the sinker is on, the infielders had better be ready. He specifically mentioned being very confident with the defenders who will be behind him, and well he should be, because we've seen some great range from Hardy and Roberts going either way, and Reynolds and Lee have picked up at the corners as well. We can only hope Rays hitters look as bad today as they have for the first two games.
For O's hitters, the lineup we've seen so far will mostly be intact, with the exception of Luke Scott. Scott pulled a minor muscle in running out the fielder's choice in the top of the 7th last night, so he will be replaced by Felix Pie in left field. We saw last night why it can be good to have Felix out there, as he has greater speed and a stronger arm than Scott, although with him there's always the question of whether he'll use the tools properly. The injury bug also bit Tampa, as Evan Longoria will be out for a week or so. I think that the Orioles come out ahead here.
Going for the Rays will be Wade Davis. Being as Davis was a rookie last year, no one on the O's has significant plate appearances against him, but in the limited action the numbers mostly aren't pretty. On the other hand, none of that matters now, because much of that action was in the Before Buck Era, and all of it was in the Terry Crowley era. Davis, by the way, recorded more points in Rookie of the Year voting than Brian Matusz in spite of not being as good of a pitcher as Matusz A good, demoralizing shelling to start out his sophomore slump is just what the doctor ordered here.
This just in: potential sweeps are Birdland, but actual sweeps are even more Birdland. No Sunday forfeit lineup here. Only pure, undistilled ass-kicking possibilities. Go O's!