Tag:Zach Britton
Posted on: February 15, 2012 10:38 am
Edited on: February 15, 2012 11:06 am
 

Britton heads to camp with shoulder soreness

By Matt Snyder

Spring training hasn't started yet, and we're here to pass along some potentially bad news to Orioles fans already. Left-handed starting pitcher Zach Britton -- who figured to be the staff ace -- heads to camp "limited in his activities" due to a sore left shoulder, reports MLB.com. This is the same shoulder problem that landed him on the disabled list last August.

"We are currently monitoring Zach Britton," general manager Dan Duquette said in a statement released by the club. "He has already reported to spring training and is scheduled to begin his throwing progression this Friday."

Now, let's not overreact. Opening day is a long way away. Camp hasn't even started yet -- though it does in a matter of days. It's entirely possible Britton strengthens his throwing shoulder through the spring and is ready to take the ball opening day for the Orioles.

It's just that hearing about a starting pitcher in the middle of February having a sore shoulder hardly breeds confidence in his ability to head up the rotation this season. It's even more troubling that this is an injury that has lingered for six months, encompassing the entire offseason. I'll say this, he won't be finding his way onto my fantasy baseball team.

Britton, 24, went 11-11 with a 4.61 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in his rookie year for the Orioles. He definitely wore down as the season went on, possibly a product of his sore shoulder, possibly just because he was a rookie. He was 5-2 with a 2.14 ERA after nine starts, for example, then he closed the season with a 5.85 ERA in September.

Still, Britton appeared to be the Orioles' best pitcher heading into the spring, and now this news puts a bit of a black cloud over pitchers and catchers reporting. The good news, as I outlined in the AL East position battles, is the Orioles have almost a dozen starting pitching options (no exaggeration). So there's that.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: February 10, 2012 10:59 am
 

Spring position battles: American League East



By Matt Snyder


Here we are for the fifth of six installments of spring positional battles. This one is the mighty AL East, the most polarizing and probably best division in the majors.

Previous spring position battles: AL West | NL West | AL Central | NL Central

New York Yankees
Designated Hitter: Andruw Jones vs. Russell Branyan vs. Free Agent vs. Revolving Door

I still feel like the Yankees will sign either Johnny Damon, Raul Ibanez or Hideki Matsui -- any of whom likely nails down this job full-time. But it's undecided as of right now, and wide open. Will Andruw Jones or Russell Branyan hit well enough to justify being the full-time DH? Maybe, or maybe they platoon -- as Jones hits from the right side while Branyan is a lefty. Or maybe the Yankees use bench players like Eduardo Nunez, Bill Hall and Chris Dickerson in the field while using starters like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher at DH a few times a week in order to keep guys healthy and in tip-top shape.

Tampa Bay Rays
No. 4-5 starters: Jeff Niemann vs. Wade Davis vs. Matt Moore vs. Six-man rotation

Talk about a nice "problem" to have. The Rays obviously have David Price, James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson as the top three in the rotation. While there isn't a big problem with either Niemann or Davis, it's time to find a place in the rotation for Moore and I'm certain they will. The 22-year-old left-hander was awesome in his limited time in the majors last year, including a stellar outing against the Rangers in Texas for Game 1 of the ALDS. Moore's already received the type of team-friendly contract Evan Longoria got when he was a rookie -- as Moore is signed through 2016 with club options running all the way through 2019. So the question is, do the Rays demote either Niemann or Davis to the bullpen or trade one of them? Niemann would be the trade candidate, as Davis also has a team-friendly contract with club options that take him through 2017. And I doubt this happens, but the Rays could always go with a six-man rotation. Seeing how this plays out will a big spring storyline.

Boston Red Sox
Shortstop: Nick Punto vs. Mike Aviles vs. Jose Iglesias

After trading both Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie this offseason, the Red Sox are left with what appears to be Mike Aviles against Nick Punto at short. Punto had a good offensive campaign by his standards last season, when he hit .278 with a .388 on-base percentage. He only had six starts at shortstop, though, and his career numbers don't indicate he's worthy of an everyday gig at shortstop. Aviles also only started six games at short last season, and he only hit .255/.289/.409. He did hit well for the Red Sox, but it was a small 107 plate appearance sample. So the choice between Punto and Aviles is dubious defensively and neither is a good offensive option. Enter Iglesias, the dazzling defensive prospect. He's a dreadful hitter -- his line in Triple-A was .235/.285/.269 last season -- but it's not like Aviles or Punto are going to be confused with Troy Tulowitzki or anything. Maybe the Red Sox just plant Iglesias in the nine-hole and enjoy the exceptional defense?

Corner Outfield spots: Cody Ross vs. Ryan Sweeney vs. Carl Crawford and his health

Crawford is said to be questionable for the start of the season after undergoing minor wrist surgery a few weeks ago. If he's healthy, he starts in left easily while Sweeney and Ross battle it out for the right field job. If Crawford can't start the season, Ross and Sweeney are the corner outfielders, yet still fighting for the right field job for when Crawford returns. At some point, Ryan Kalish will return from offseason shoulder surgery and could eventually fight for playing time in right field as well.

Toronto Blue Jays
Outfield logjam: Colby Rasmus vs. Eric Thames vs. Rajai Davis vs. Travis Snider

We know who mans right field, but these four guys are competing for the other two spots. Thames in left field and Rasmus in center seem the most likely, but Davis will get a shot at either spot and Snider is in the mix for left.

No. 5 starter: Dustin McGowan vs. Kyle Drabek

This may bleed up into the No. 4 starter as well, but I'll give Brett Cecil the nod for now, since he is left-handed. The top three are Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow and Henderson Alvarez. So, for now, I'll guess the last spot comes down to McGowan and Drabek. McGowan was once a very promising young arm. He went 12-10 with a 4.08 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 144 strikeouts in 169 2/3 innings back in 2007, when he was 25. He then made 19 starts before falling injured in 2008 and finally just resurfaced late last season -- two shoulder surgeries and one knee surgery later. Does he have anything left? He was good in 12 minor-league starts in 2011, but had a 6.43 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in the small sample of 21 innings pitched for the Blue Jays. Drabek was a top 30 prospect each of the past two years, according to Baseball America, but he fell flat last season for the Jays. He had a 6.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP and more walks than strikeouts for the big-league club. Even worse, he was knocked around for Triple-A Las Vegas, to the tune of a 7.44 ERA and 2.03 WHIP in 75 innings. Walks, again, were an issue with Drabek issuing 41 compared to 45 strikeouts. Prospects Deck McGuire and Drew Hutchison could also figure in the mix eventually, but this feels like Drabek vs. McGowan heading into March.

Baltimore Orioles
The entire pitching staff: Johnny Wholestaff vs. Joe Allstaff

So let's see ... the following pitchers might have a chance at the starting rotation: Zach Britton (very safe bet), Jason Hammel (safe bet), Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Dana Eveland, Wei-Yin Chen, Tsuyoshi Wada, Alfredo Simon and Tommy Hunter. That's quite a mix of pitchers to sift through, but the job isn't overwith yet, because we have to look at the bullpen.

Three pitchers -- Jim Johnson, Matt Lindstrom and Kevin Gregg -- will compete for the closer job, with Troy Patton, Pedro Strop and Darren O'Day also being part of the bullpen mix. Of course, guys like Simon, Hunter and Bergesen will get a shot in the bullpen if they miss out on the rotation, too. There are more (Willie Eyre, Armando Galarraga, etc.), but I already named 17 pitchers vying for 12 spots.

We could probably move Simon and Hunter to the bullpen while eliminating Eveland from the starting mix, but that still leaves eight guys in competition. In the bullpen, Johnson seems the best bet to win the closer gig, with Lindstrom and Gregg setting up. Add Strop, Patton, Simon and Hunter and you have your seven. But, again, we've thrown out Eveland and there would still be three extra starters along with O'Day, Eyre et al on the outside looking in.

I'll say one thing: Orioles manager Buck Showalter and pitching coach Rick Adair won't be bored this spring. Maybe frustrated, but definitely not bored.

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Posted on: December 11, 2011 6:35 am
 

Homegrown Team: Baltimore Orioles

Erik Bedard

By C. Trent Rosecrans


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule/past entries of this feature, click here.

The Orioles haven't had a winning season since 1997, and part of that has been the team's inability to draft, sign and cultivate its own players. Even the teams with the biggest payrolls, like the Yankees and Red Sox, have learned the lesson that you need to have a steady crop of homegrown players, not only to keep costs down, but also to have the commodities to trade if needed. The Orioles' Matt Wieters emerged as an All-Star in 2011 and Brian Roberts has had a solid career, but the team has still struggled to produce a consistent pipeline to the majors, and when those players have gotten there, they've often disappointed.

Lineup

1. Brian Roberts, 2B
2. Mike Fontenot, SS
3. Nick Markakis, RF
4. Jayson Werth, 1B
5. Matt Wieters, C
6. Nolan Reimold, LF
7. Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B
8. Willie Harris, DH
9. Darnell McDonald, CF

Starting Rotation

1. Erik Bedard
2. Zach Britton
3. Jake Arrieta
4. Brad Bergesen
5. Brian Matusz

Bullpen

Closer - David Hernandez
Set up - Arthur Rhodes, Jim Johnson, Koji Uehara, Jason Berken, Pedro Beato, D.J. Carrasco

Notable Bench Players

Eli Whiteside is the backup catcher, and a pretty good one. But other than that, the Orioles' bench is thin. Brandon Snyder? Ryan Adams? That's about all the team has to offer.

What's Good?

The middle of the lineup -- Markakis, Werth and Wieters is solid and the bullpen is deep. Other than that? Not much.

What's Not?

Take your pick -- the rest of the team's lineup isn't up to snuff. The rotation, minus Bedard, is similar to the real team's rotation in 2011. And then there's not much depth, either in the rotation or the lineup.

Comparison to real 2011

Only the Astros, Twins and Mariners had a worse record than Baltimore's 67-95 mark in 2011, and this team could be even worse. The rotation is about the same and the offense isn't as good without J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Mark Reynolds. The Orioles once were known for throwing money at free agents and not developing their own players, now they just don't develop their own players. A team of homegrown Orioles could challenge the 100 loss mark and maybe even the worst record in baseball.

Next: Washington Nationals

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Posted on: September 27, 2011 4:13 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 4:14 pm
 

On Deck: Wild card chases dominate action



By Evan Brunell


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

AL wild card: It's all tied up in the Ameican League, as the Red Sox and Rays are both battling for the right to play in October. Everyone knows how the Sox have collapsed and the Rays have ascended, so we won't recap that here. Jeremy Hellickson, who seems certain to lock up the AL Rookie of the Year award, will take on the Yankees and Bartolo Colon. The Red Sox will counter with Erik Bedard -- who hasn't been the pitcher the team hoped it was getting at the trade deadline -- going up against Zach Britton. Given the pitching matchups, one would expect this tie to extend another day with both teams winning, but games are played on the field. Red Sox vs. Orioles, 7:05 p.m. ET | Yankees vs. Rays 7:10 p.m. ET

NL wild card: If the Braves can win tonight with the Cardinals losing, Atlanta will have somehow staved off collapse to win the wild card. Hopes rest on Derek Lowe, no stranger to postseason heroics, in matching up against Roy Oswalt. The good news is that the Phillies have stumbled lately, which works in Atlanta's favor. The bad news? Oswalt is a better pitcher than Lowe, whose 4.92 ERA is third-worst, behind 2004 and his rookie season of 1997 when he was a reliever. The Cardinals, meanwhile, are in must-win mode with Jake Westbrook heading up against Henry Sosa of the Astros in what is a lopsided matchup... on paper. Remember, Houston defeated St. Louis Monday night. It's going to be an entertaining night. Braves vs. Phillies, 7:10 p.m. ET | Cardinals vs. Astros, 8:05 p.m. ET

VelezDubious history: As SB Nation's Rob Neyer points out, the Dodgers' Eugenio Velez is hitless in 36 at-bats in the majors this season. Given he also finished 2010 with nine straight hitless, he's tied for the longest hitless streak. However, it doesn't count because it was split between two seasons. However, Velez has set a record for the most hitless at-bats in a season, not counting pitchers. Velez already outdistanced Hal Finney, who was 0 for 35 in 1935. With two games left, Velez should get a couple more at-bats to further extend his ignominious record -- or to end it with a hit.  Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks, 9:40 p.m. ET

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Posted on: September 21, 2011 11:41 am
Edited on: September 21, 2011 11:43 am
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Baltimore Orioles

By Matt Snyder

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Baltimore Orioles
Record: 64-90, 29.5 games back in AL East
Manager: Buck Showalter
Best hitter: Adam Jones -- .283/.324/.466, 23 HR, 80 RBI, 63 R, 25 2B, 11 SB
Best pitcher: Jeremy Guthrie -- 9-17, 4.28 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 128 K, 202 IP

The more things change, the more they stay the same. The Orioles haven't been in playoff contention since 1997. Following that season, they finished fourth nine times and third once. They're now headed for their fourth consecutive last-place finish.

2011 SEASON RECAP

Things appeared to be looking up early in the season for the Orioles. They started off 6-1, and this wasn't against pushovers. They swept the Rays, took two of three from the Tigers and then beat the Rangers. Of course, it was too good to be true. They proceeded to lose eight straight. They did battle back to .500 twice and lingered close to .500 until being buried by an awful stretch, when they went 6-23 from June 11-July 15. That would end any hope of breaking through, as the Orioles wouldn't be closer than 20 games in the AL East after July 22.

The Orioles did get younger in trading Derrek Lee, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez, and there were some positive signs. They now have a decent offensive core of catcher Matt Wieters, third baseman Mark Reynolds, shortstop J.J. Hardy and outfielders Nick Markakis and Adam Jones (any of the four could have been picked as the "best hitter" above). None of those players are older than 28. Of course, none are younger than 25, nor do any appear to be superstar material. On the mound, the Orioles saw enough from rookie Zach Britton to believe he's one of the pieces of the future, but Brian Matusz had a disaster of a season. Jim Johnson is showing himself the answer at closer and Pedro Strop -- who was acquired from the Rangers in the Gonzalez deal -- is throwing the ball very well in front of him.

2012 AUDIT

The outlook would be a lot more sunny in a different division. The fact of the matter is that the Orioles are set up to improve their on-field product, but probably not be drastic enough to translate into more wins next season -- because the AL East is so good. The Yankees, Red Sox or Rays don't appear to be getting much worse any time soon and the Blue Jays are pretty well set up to take some significant steps forward. That means that even if the Orioles get better, they're still behind the 8-ball, so to speak.

One area where they can improve is from simple progression from all the young players. Matusz can't possibly be worse, so long as he stays mentally balanced, healthy and works hard in the offseason. Tommy Hunter has good enough stuff to be a part of the rotation, too, just as Jake Arrieta does. Chris Tillman is still too young to give up on. Shifting to the position players: Brian Roberts will still only be 34 and should be healthy, so there's hope he comes back with a productive season. Luke Scott and Nolan Reimold are fine pieces of a supporting cast and we already mentioned the offensive core. Also of note: Wieters is becoming a great defensive catcher. That matters.

FREE AGENTS

Cesar Izturis, SS
Vladimir Guerrero, DH

OFFSEASON FOCUS

They need to quit trying to make a patchwork lineup (Lee, Guerrero) for the short-term and instead use some money looking long-term. You aren't competing in the AL East by filling holes with washed-up vets. Here are five big things I'd do to improve the Orioles with the eyes on the future.
  • Sign Prince Fielder. Whatever it takes. I mentioned above the offensive core is good, but lacking a centerpiece. Prince ties it all together. The top seven in the lineup would go something like: Roberts, Markakis, Fielder, Jones, Hardy, Reynolds, Wieters. That looks pretty good, no? Fielder might not want to head to the worst team in the AL East, but money talks. Blow him away. Worried about his durability due to weight? He's only 27 and hasn't played less than 157 games in a season until this year (and he's at 155 and primed to surpass that mark again). He just doesn't miss games. After the big splash signing, try to keep everything else in-house and see what other holes definitely need to be filled after '12.
  • Move Mark Reynolds to DH permanently. He's an absolute butcher at third, but his power and on-base abilities are helpful to the offense.
  • Let Josh Bell and Chris Davis compete for the third base job. Both players have upside, so the Orioles could strike gold here and make the lineup even stronger.
  • Trade Jeremy Guthrie. He's going to be 33 next season and -- as long as you can ignore the high-loss totals his Orioles have saddled him with -- isn't a bad pitcher. He could give a contender 200 decent innings as their fifth starter. Thus, he'll get something like a mid-level prospect back, but the main reason is the Orioles need to see what they have by giving extended looks to the young pitchers who have already seen time in the bigs. Go into the season with a rotation of Britton, Matusz, Hunter, Arrieta and Tillman and give it an extended look. By midseason, if one or two aren't working out, it's time to dip into the minors for others. If three or four aren't working out, more drastic measures will have to be taken in the offseason.
  • Stick with the Strop-Johnson duo at the end of games. There's no reason to go out and grab another retread like Kevin Gregg again. Trade Gregg if they could, but it's doubtful much comes back. Whatever, let him pitch in non-save situations.
This wouldn't make them a contender in 2012, but they'd be better and would have the chance to evaluate where everything stands with the young players after the 2012 season. You have to take babysteps to get back to respectability after finishing fifth four straight times.

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Posted on: September 17, 2011 10:43 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2011 10:45 pm
 

Playoff race: Angels falling behind

Ervin Santana

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Angels' slim hopes of a playoff appearance took a major hit on Saturday, with Los Angeles losing its second game in Baltimore and Texas beating Seattle to give the Rangers a 4.5-game lead in the American League West.

Los Angeles has now lost four of its last six in what was supposed to be the easy part of its schedule. Starter Ervin Santana gave up two homers in a five-run first for the Orioles and the team got shut down by Zach Britton, who allowed just three hits and a run in seven innings.

Texas rallied from an early three-run deficit, as Josh Hamilton had four hits and drove in three while hitting his first daytime home run of the season.

Texas Rangers
87-65
Remaining schedule: 1 @ SEA, 3 @ OAK, 3 vs. SEA, 3 @ LAA
Coolstandings.com expectancy of division title: 96.1 percent

Los Angeles Angels
82-69, 4.5 GB
Remaining schedule: 1 @ BAL, 4 @ TOR, 3 v. OAK, 3 v. TEX
Coolstandings.com expectancy of division title: 3.9 percent

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Posted on: August 28, 2011 11:35 pm
 

3 Up, 3 Down: White Sox youth movement



By Matt Snyder


Dayan Viciedo/Tyler Flowers, White Sox. The White Sox moved one game over .500 and to within six of the AL Central-leading Tigers with a 9-3 win over the Mariners Sunday, and the young guys were front and center. White Sox fans have clamored for Viciedo's promotion from the minors all summer and he finally made it to the show Sunday. In his first start of the 2011 season, Viciedo hit a three-run home run to give the Sox a 3-0 lead. Later, 25-year-old catcher Flowers must have felt a bit left out, because he clubbed a grand slam in the sixth inning, as part of a six-run rally that would put the game away.

Zack Greinke, Brewers. Greinke worked 7 2/3 innings, allowing just four hits and one run while striking out seven in the Brewers 3-2 win over the Cubs, but that's not why he's here. No, Greinke's getting the nod as an "up" for stealing a base. It was a straight steal, too. Meanwhile, the Brewers are actually only five games behind the Phillies for the best record in baseball. It's been quite the amazing run (27-5 in last 32 games).

Zach Britton, Orioles. Britton has shown flashes of brilliance this year as a rookie, giving the Orioles hope their future ace is soon to emerge, and Sunday he put forth one of his strongest efforts of the season. The young left-hander threw seven shutout innings against the powerful Yankees, allowing only four hits and a walk in a 2-0 Orioles victory. It marked the sixth straight win for the Orioles, though that streak would stop with the nightcap. Still, a very solid effort for Britton.



Jered Weaver, Angels. The Angels went all in during a three-game visit to Texas this weekend, as they brought Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver to the hill on short rest. Santana fared well enough to get the Angels a win Saturday -- along with some offensive help -- but Sunday Weaver did not. The Rangers' offense pegged him for eight hits and seven earned runs in six-plus innings. Weaver even walked four guys, so his command may have been affected by the short rest. Also, a lot of damage was done in the seventh, when Weaver was pulled before recording an out and was charged with his last three earned runs. So it's possible his stamina was also affected by the short rest. Whatever the reason, the Angels lost 9-5 and fell to three games out in the AL West.

Brad Penny, Tigers.
Maybe all the cussing is getting him off his game? Penny was roughed up by a Twins lineup that was missing Joe Mauer and Michael Cuddyer. Plus, they just traded Jim Thome. Still, in five innings Penny gave up eight hits and seven runs en route to an 11-4 loss.

Eli Whiteside, Giants. How much do the Giants continue to miss Buster Posey? The offense has been an issue all season, as the Giants rank dead last in the NL in runs scored. Sunday, catcher Whiteside went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. To make matters worse, Whiteside could have made it to first base on a wild pitch on his fourth strikeout but didn't run (Extra Baggs). When you lose 4-3 in extra innings to the hapless Astros, that's a tough pill to swallow.

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Posted on: August 5, 2011 1:16 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: AL East, Central dominate and fail

Santana
By Evan Brunell

UpCarlos Santana, Indians: A day after wearing the golden sombrero, Santana ripped a 3-for-4 night with three runs batted in and adding a home run for extra measure. The outing brought his overall batting average up to .232, a far cry from where he can be. The catching phenom has been drawing walks and hitting for power just fine, but that average has been strange to see. His splits don't really point to a clear delineation, either, as his batting average since June 17 (excluding Thursday night) is .248, which is much closer to his 2010 line of .260. Given his career batting average in the minors was .290, there's more there we have yet to see in the majors.

Ivan Nova, Yankees: How are the Yankees supposed to decide between Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova now? The two are battling for a rotation spot as the Yankees take a brief turn through a six-man rotation. Hughes came through with a dazzling start and Nova has backed that up with an eye-popping outing in punching out 10 White Sox batters. That's easily a career high, as Nova's topped out at seven previously. He went 7 2/3 innings, giving up just one earned run and walk to drop his ERA to 3.81. Good luck figuring things out, skipper.

Alex Gordon, Royals: Gordon matched a career high with four hits in five trips to the plate, chipping in two runs and a double. Gordon has flourished -- years later than people thought, but he's flourished. The leadoff man is hitting .311/.382/.505 and thriving in left field. Maybe he needed to get away from third or maybe it's a happy coincidence, but having Gordon under the fold  means one less spot for the Royals to worry about in their rebuild. He's not a free agent until after 2013.



DownJon Rauch and Shawn Camp, Blue Jays: Rarely does a team throw away a victory like Toronto did on Thursday, losing 7-6 in 12 innings to the Rays. Toronto scored a run in the top eighth to even things up at 3-3 headed into extras. A Colby Rasmus double scored Yunel Escobar for a run in the top 10th, but Jon Rauch's first batter, Desmond Jennings, launched a home run to tie things up. But no worries, Jose Molina somehow ripped a triple (it would be unsurprising if it took him longer to reach third than it takes some to circle the bases on a homer) to score two. End ballgame, right? Nope. Rauch stayed in to try to close things out, but quickly gave up a double, single and RBI groundout. Enter Shawn Camp, who induced an out before coughing up the tying run in the form of a single by Robinson Chirinos. He got out of the inning, but Chirinos struck again in the bottom of the 12th with a bases-loaded single.

Zach Britton, Orioles: Britton didn't exactly excel in his second start since a brief demotion to the minor leagues sandwiched around the All-Star break to rest his arm and, no doubt, drop his service time down so he doesn't become a free agent until 2017. Britton gave up six earned runs to the Yankees in just 1/3 of an inning last time out. He gave up the same number of runs Thursday to the Royals, albeit in 5 1/3 innings. Four were earned, and no batters were fooled by his offerings, which were slapped around the diamond for 12 hits.

Carlos Guillen, Tigers: Guillen played in his 16th game after finally coming off the disabled list to make his season debut. The 35-year-old has been looked at to help save production at second base, but he hasn't quite done that with a .246/.274/.404 line after goign 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. That's not awful -- in fact, going into the game, he posted zero wins above replacement, so he's not harming Detroit, and no one expects him to live up to his $13 million deal; he's in "whatever we can get" territory. But he's still going to have plenty of 0-for-4 nights, like he did tonight.

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