Britton brilliant as Baltimore blanks Bombers 2-0

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

This was the Zach Britton Baltimore’s been waiting for all season.

The young lefthander had the Yankees completely fooled with a filthy two-seamer (Ken Singleton and Michael Kay kept calling it a sinker, but Brooks has it as a two-seamer) that racked up an absurd -3.6007 linear weights, complemented by a superb slider, and hurling seven shutout innings — yielding only four hits, walking one and striking out five — that led the Orioles to a 2-0 shutout of the Yankees, for Baltimore’s season-high sixth straight victory (and the Yankees’ sixth time being shutout in 2011).

Britton was so good he didn’t even allow the Yankees more than one baserunner in any inning,  not allowing a man to reach second base. The outing marked Britton’s second-best by WPA on the 2011 season, and all you can do is tip your cap to the talented youngster, especially after the Yankees trounced him a month ago.

The good news for the Bombers is that Bartolo Colon had his best outing since returning from the DL in early July, throwing 7 2/3 innings of two-run ball — good enough to win most days. On the postgame Joe Girardi (as well as Kenny and Kay) said that part of Bart’s success in this game was the return of his two-seamer — something we’ve been hoping to see for a while now — but per PitchFX he only threw it 10 times, and I’m not really sure whether Girardi or the pitch classification system is right here. It seemed like Bart threw more than 10 two-seamers, but perhaps those were sliders (which, per Brooks, he threw 13 of). In any event, however he went about doing it, it was great to see the return of Bart from the first half of the season.

The Yanks and O’s are back at it in a couple of hours, and hopefully Ivan Nova can snap this mini two-game slide, although to do so the Yankee bats will have to come alive against Brian Matusz — something they haven’t exactly shown much of a knack for doing in the past.

10 thoughts on “Britton brilliant as Baltimore blanks Bombers 2-0

  1. It’s more than a 2 game slide- 9-9 in last 18 games against mostly inferior competition. Not too good. If this slide continues much longer, WC may not be a sure thing as many think.

    • Frank,

      If you want to worry about the Yankees’ grip on the wild card that’s certainly your prerogative, but a 6-game lead with 32 to play shouldn’t give you too much pause. The Yankees may be in the midst of a bit of an uninspired stretch of play, but that’s nothing out of the ordinary over the course of a 162-game season.

      The offense has been raking, and unless you believe that the Yankees pitching staff’s true talent level is the 4.74 ERA they’ve put up in August — not to mention a 5.69 starters’ ERA, 2nd-worst in the AL — I see little reason to expect a wholesale collapse.

      And if they did end up collapsing — again, incredibly unlikely, as they currently have a 99% chance of making the postseason — it’s probably better off they not make the playoffs if they can’t even hold a 6-game lead on a playoff spot with 32 to play. But hey, that’s just me.

      • A six-game lead shouldn’t give someone too much pause?

        What if the Yanks lose to the Os tonight? They’d be three behind Boston through tonight and only 5.5 games ahead of the Rays for the wildcard with 31 games to play. ‘Say the Yanks win tomorrow but gain ground on no one. If Boston sweeps the Yanks and the Rays take 2 of 3, the Yanks can forget about winning the division and have a paltry 3.5 game lead over the Rays for the wildcard through 9/1. It could snowball that easily if Sabathia wets his pants against the Red Sox again and Burnett actually faces the Red Sox.

        Toronto is no pushover. Baltimore could still play well although I don’t think they will. The Angels will be no walk in the park and Seattle could be every bit as dangerous as Boston if the Yanks draw Hernandez and either Pineda or Vargas, or both. Then it’s three at Toronto (Ricky Romero twice in a month?) and ten with the Rays and Red Sox to close the season with a Twins game thrown in there (Liriano? Duensing? Baker?), maybe Baltimore on 9/29 if the Yanks even need that game.

  2. Larry, I think both Brooks and the YES broadcast team were right. I need to find a website that explains pitch grips to be sure (any suggestions greatly apreciated), but I think two-seamers can break opposite, like Bartolo’s, or they can break opposite and down, and then it’s called a sinker. Rich Harden’s was definitely that, and probably Zach’s.

      • For instance, Beckett throws the 2-seamer and sometimes it will move down, other times down and sideways. The difference is in how well he’s executing it, but its the same grip.

        • I’ve seen some folks claim the two-seamer and sinker to be the same pitch, while others have them as separate pitches. If they were in fact one and the same, I don’t quite understand why pitchfx classifies them as separate pitches. I know pitchfx has its issues, but creating a separate classification system for a pitch that doesn’t technically exist doesn’t sound like one of them.

          I believe Smurfy’s right in that the two-seamer generally breaks away from the hitter while a sinking fastball breaks down. However, I’ve also read that the two-seamer and sinker employ the same grip, which back what Steve says.

          To my eye, I thought what Britton was throwing looked more like a sinking fastball, compared to Bart’s two-seamer, which has that late break back over the plate instead of diving downward. Maybe the type of movement one gets out of the pitch has to do with arm angles/velocity.

          We’ve had a fair amount of questions regarding pitchfx and pitch classification over the last few months — it’s something I find very interesting, and have done a lot of work to enhance my understanding of pitch types and effectiveness and to also try to explain as best I can to our audience, but I’m far from an expert. I think I may reach out to pitchfx mavens Lucas Apostoleris (DBITL, Hardball Times) and/or Josh Weinstock (IIATMS) to see if they might be willing to do some sort of pitch type classification/pitchfx primer as a guest post. I know I’d find this pretty enlightening, and I’m sure a lot of our readers would too.

          • That sounds great. I’d love an explanation myself, and I’m sure they have a good reason.

            BTW-For what its worth, Bart said he threw a lot of 2 seamers today, then immediately followed saying he threw a lot of sliders as well. Which doesn’t really clear things up.

  3. Nicely done by RLYW

    If it continues to look like a game that won’t matter, the Yankees should call up everyone on the 40 man roster and send this team to Baltimore on September 8.

    SP: A.J.
    Bullpen: Lance Pendleton, Raul Valdes

    C: Cervelli
    1B: Andruw Jones
    2B: Aaron Laffey
    3B: Brandon Laird
    SS: Ryan Pope
    LF: Chris Dickerson
    CF: Greg Golson
    RF: Justin Maxwell
    DH: Melky Mesa

    Make Burnett pitch all eight innings, just keep a couple of arms in the bullpen in case he gets ejected.