With their starting rotation in a state of flux, the injury-plagued Baltimore Orioles are counting on Zach Britton to help provide some stability.
Britton is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to make his season debut Tuesday night as the visiting Orioles take on the Minnesota Twins, who broke out in a big way during the opener of this four-game set.
After going 11-11 with a 4.61 ERA over 28 starts during his up-and-down rookie season, Britton has yet to take mound in the majors this year. The 24-year-old left-hander, who was on the disabled list last August with a strain in his throwing shoulder, still felt soreness in the spring and was placed on the DL with a shoulder impingement before opening day.
Activated June 6, Britton was sent to the minors, where he's been able to round into form. He threw seven scoreless innings during his last start Thursday and is looking forward to finally getting back to the big leagues.
"I feel a lot more confident going into this year, because I know I've prepared the right way and my delivery's where it needs to be," Britton, who led Baltimore in wins last year, told the team's official website. "There's a lot of confidence from that aspect coming into the start."
With Jason Hammel (right knee surgery) out for at least a month and Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta both recently sent down, the Orioles are looking to Britton to bolster their rotation, which looked especially troubled Monday.
Chris Tillman was tagged for seven runs - one earned - while retiring just two batters before being removed. The Twins (37-52) did plenty more damage the rest of the way, winning 19-7 behind Denard Span's season-high five RBIs and four hits each from Ben Revere and Justin Morneau.
"We've been taking a few beatings lately. It's nice to be on this side of one," said manager Ron Gardenhire, whose club snapped a five-game losing streak.
Baltimore (46-43) had outscored the Twins 39-9 during a seven-game run in the series before Monday, but dropped to 1-5 over its last six games overall.
"File this away as, 'Oh, well,'" said Mark Reynolds, who went 3 for 4 with a homer and four RBIs but committed a two-out error that led to the Orioles' disastrous first inning. "Just one of those nights. You've got to tip your hats to them."
Baltimore will try to bounce back against Twins scheduled starter Samuel Deduno (0-0, 5.06 ERA). In his first big league start, the right-hander allowed three runs and was taken deep twice over 5 1-3 innings of a 4-3, 10-inning loss at Texas on July 7.
While Deduno has never faced Baltimore, Britton won each of his two starts versus Minnesota last season while compiling a 3.27 ERA.
Already playing without oft-injured Brian Roberts (hip), the Orioles now have to overcome the absence of fellow second baseman Robert Andino. He's expected to miss at least three weeks due to an injured left shoulder.
Andino was hitting .230 with five homers and 21 RBIs in 79 games. Britton will take his spot on the roster.