- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2016

In an American League Wild Card that required two extra innings, Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter used three different pitchers to get him through the extra innings against the Toronto Blue Jays.

One of the more perplexing decisions was Showalter choosing not to put pitcher Zach Britton on the mound. Britton, Baltimore’s top pitcher and the team’s closer, allowed just four earned runs during the season and recorded 74 strikeouts in 67 innings in the entire season.

But Britton was left on the bench for the entire game. Initially, the early murmurs suggested Britton may not have been available and may have been dealing with some sort of undisclosed injury. That was the reason why Baltimore turned to Ubaldo Jimenez late in the game.

That was not the case.

“He was available,” Showalter said to Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper. “Nobody has been pitching better for us than Ubaldo (Jimenez).”

Jimenez had finished with a strong September, recording 31 strikeouts and a 2.31 ERA in 35 innings, his best month-to-month totals of the season. But when Jimenez entered the game with two outs remaining in the bottom of the 11th, Jimenez allowed a single to second baseman Devon Travis, another single to third baseman Josh Donaldson and ultimately the walk off home run to first baseman Edwin Encarnacion. It was the first three batters Jimenez faced.

Showalter said that he would rather save Britton for later and allow other pitchers to get him through the inning.

That essentially hints that Britton likely would have entered the game if the Orioles took the lead. But Baltimore didn’t even record a hit after the sixth inning.

Britton expressed his disappointment in Showalter’s decision.

“It was just frustrating to have to sit down there and watch and not be able to help the team,” Britton said to MASN’s Roch Kubatko.

 

 

 

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