Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton’s record-setting saves streak has been snapped at 60 straight saves.
They say all good things must eventually come to an end, and All-Star closer Zach Britton and the Baltimore Orioles finally saw an incredible streak snapped on Wednesday evening. The Oakland Athletics pushed across two runs in the ninth inning against Britton to tie the score 7-7. The left-hander was going for his 61st save in a row.
The A’s rally in the ninth inning started with a single to left by Jed Lowrie. Boog Powell followed by slapping a double down the left field line, and it was evident that Britton’s streak was in some serious jeopardy. The Athletics cut the deficit to a run after Marcus Semien grounded a single between third baseman Manny Machado and shortstop Tim Beckham. The save was finally blown when the next batter, Matt Joyce, lifted a sacrifice fly to center fielder Adam Jones.
After blowing the save, Britton was in danger of taking the loss. With Semien still on first base, he uncorked a wild pitch and then walked Khris Davis. At that point, O’s manager Buck Showalter had seen enough, and he called on Miguel Castro to attempt to prevent the go-ahead run from scoring. Castro walked the tightrope after walking Ryon Healy, but was able to escape trouble without allowing another run.
The Orioles were able to avoid a soul-crushing loss when Manny Machado hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th inning. Castro pitched 3.2 shutout innings to bail Britton out and struck out three. None of this would have happened had Mychal Givens not given up a two-run home run to Joyce in the eighth inning. The Orioles snatched victory from the jaws of defeat from the jaws of victory after blowing the 6-1 lead they carried into the seventh.
Britton last blew a save on September 15, 2015 when he surrendered a lead against the Tampa Bay Rays. Along the way, he set the American League record and finished the 2016 season with 47 saves and a 0.54 ERA. Throwing a 97-mph sinker almost exclusively, Britton has been next to impossible for opponents to homer off for the better part of four seasons since taking over as closer. He has allowed only nine home runs over his past 234.1 innings while recording a 1.61 ERA with 131 saves.
Having watched enough Britton appearances this year, the end of his saves streak was inevitable. His elbow has forced him to the DL twice this season, and opponents have begun hitting his sinker with more authority. Ultimately, Britton will come up 24 saves short of the MLB record of 84 set by Los Angeles Dodgers closer Eric Gagne.