BALTIMORE -- Zach Britton will face the Yankees on Saturday in his third start since being promoted from Triple-A Norfolk, and the 25-year-old's main task will be going deeper into the game.
Britton has thrown just 10 1/3 innings over his last two starts, exiting before going a full six in both, but he will have another chance to solidify his rotation spot with a strong showing against the Yankees. New York entered the weekend set fresh off being two-hit by Texas starter Derek Holland and is batting .233/.306/.337 against left-handed pitching this season.
"[I'm] not necessarily going to focus on the sixth, because you have to get there," Britton, who is 1-2 with a 5.51 ERA over the three starts, said of his approach, "[I have to make] sure I'm being a little more efficient when there's guys on base -- taking my time versus making a good pitch, not letting the game speed up a little bit. I think that's really about it. Not overthinking it and just making sure I'm getting ahead of hitters all the way through."
Although Britton has looked sharp stuff-wise, he knows he has to give the team more innings if he wants to remain in the rotation and take some stress off the bullpen. With lefty Wei-Yin Chen slated for his first -- and perhaps only -- rehab start on Saturday, the Orioles will have a decision to make in terms of the upcoming pitching plan, and a long outing would certainly help Britton's case. He was the odd man out earlier this year, being optioned after allowing six earned runs over six innings in Seattle on April 29, and has gotten an extended opportunity this time around.
"It's tough when you think you have to have a really, really good start every time out, otherwise you are going to go back down," he said. "It's a ton of pressure. Not only is it hard to compete on this level anyway, but [when] you put that pressure on, it makes it impossible to go out there and be the kind of pitcher you want to be.
"So [being up here longer], I have a little bit better routine now. You hope you get a nice extended look and find a groove. ... As long as I get deep in the game and give my team a chance to win, I think I'll be OK."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. Derek Wetmore is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.