Britton earns the win in return from injury

Britton earns the win in return from injury

BALTIMORE -- Prior to Thursday's game, manager Buck Showalter said that closer Zach Britton was "very close" to game action. Was he ever.

Britton, who sprained his left ankle on Saturday, made his return several hours later and got four key outs and the win in the Orioles' 1-0, 10-inning victory over the Yankees.

"I told Buck [Showalter] I was good if [he] needed me to pitch today. I was available," Britton said. "He said if we had a chance to win the game, I was going to be in there. I felt pretty good."

The All-Star lefty entered a scoreless game in the ninth inning with a runner on first base and two outs, following setup man Darren O'Day. Britton's wild first pitch allowed Starlin Castro to move to second, but catcher Matt Wieters picked off Castro to end the frame.

Wieters picks Castro off second

Britton took center stage in the 10th, showing no ill-effects from either the long layoff or the ankle injury. Following a leadoff walk to Brian McCann, he struck out the side, lowering his season ERA to 2.38 in the process.

"It was huge," Britton said of Wieters' pickoff. "That entire at-bat, I was kind of feeling like my focus was on whether or not I was going to feel [the ankle discomfort on] every pitch, even though I wasn't. And then, obviously, Matt made a huge play right there to get us back in the dugout. So I felt like that time in the dugout, sitting on the bench, I was able to come down and refocus a little bit."

Britton fanned Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and Dustin Ackley, and although Showalter said the club will see how Britton feels on Friday, it was still a positive sign to see his closer return.

"It's tough, because we don't know for sure what we're going to get," Showalter said of Britton, who was wearing an ankle brace. "I thought that [pickoff] kind of picked up his confidence a little bit. Not his confidence, just the anxiety he might have had about how he was going to do with the ankle, so that was a big threshold to cross over."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.