SARASOTA, Fla. -- Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton says he never felt Buck Showalter needed to talk to him about why he didn't pitch in the American League wild-card game, "or explain it to me or justify his reasons."
In a 5-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, Showalter used Mychal Givens, Donnie Hart, Brad Brach, Darren O'Day and Brian Duensing in relief of starter Chris Tillman before handing the ball to Ubaldo Jimenez with one out and the bases empty in the 11th inning. Jimenez allowed singles to Devon Travis and Josh Donaldson and an upper-deck home run to Edwin Encarnacion in a five-pitch span to allow Toronto to advance to the American League Division Series and end the Orioles' season.
Britton, who made the AL All-Star team in 2016, converted all 47 save opportunities during the regular season and finished with a 0.54 ERA and 0.84 WHIP.
"It was just something that, as the offseason went on, I turned the page and got ready for this season," Britton said. "But even at the time, during the game, when I was warming up waiting to see if I was going in, I never was like, 'Oh my gosh, what is he doing?' I always felt like he's definitely got a plan. I don't know if I've ever seen him unprepared."
But in mid-November, after Britton's wife gave birth to a baby boy, Britton's phone rang. On the other end was his manager.
"I had a newborn baby, so he was asking me how that was going, and then he kind of just joked around with how managers were using their relievers in the playoffs," Britton said. "And he was like, 'Well, I guess I scared everybody. Nobody wanted to get the backlash.' You know, just good humor, like Buck has. Kind of just laughed it off and said no one wants to wear it like he did."
Showalter had a short response to a question about that game: "I don't even think about it. Supposedly, you [media types] all do. But I haven't read any of it."