Orioles' Aquino gets spot start against Brewers (Jul 05, 2017)

BY AP • July 5, 2017

MILWAUKEE -- Chris Tillman's wife is expecting a child in the next few days, so the Baltimore Orioles right-hander is heading to the paternity list.

Jayson Aquino will start in his place on Wednesday when the Orioles try to avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.

Aquino (1-1, 9.00 ERA) will be recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Wednesday. He has made one start for Baltimore this season, allowing two runs over six innings against the Boston Red Sox on April 22. He said that game helped boost his confidence as he prepares for his return to the big leagues.

"I've always been very confident in my abilities, but definitely being able to do it previously and getting another chance, I feel a lot of confidence," Aquino said Tuesday through a team translator.

Aquino has spent most of the season at Norfolk, where he was 2-7 with a 4.46 ERA in 12 starts.

"I'm working on the small things, just making sure my mechanics are in sync and concentrating on throwing the ball low in the zone," Aquino said. "Those things are what has been working really well right now."

The Orioles also figure to get a boost with the return of closer Zach Britton, who has been out since early May with a forearm strain. He wrapped up a minor league rehab assignment Monday and is expected to be activated from the disabled list Wednesday morning.

In seven minor league outings over the past two weeks, he allowed one run and struck out eight in seven innings.

Manager Buck Showalter was coy when asked if Britton would move immediately into the closer's role.

"We know how we are going to do it," Showalter said.

For the Orioles to avoid the sweep, Aquino will need to find a way to stop Milwaukee first baseman Eric Thames, who hit two home runs Tuesday and appears to have snapped out of a month-long slump. He has three homers in his past two games.

Thames had an outstanding start to the season, batting .345 with 11 home runs in April, but he cooled off significantly in May and went ice cold in June, leading to him requesting a mental break.

Manager Craig Counsell obliged by giving Thames two days to clear his head.

"He's had a couple of good days, for sure," Counsell said. "He's swinging the bat well.

"I'm going to caution everybody to not get too excited about the last week of April (when Thames went 7-for-25 with three home runs). I don't want to go back to expecting that. I don't think that's fair. But he looks good. He's swinging the bat well and having very good at-bats. Some of the takes ... the walk in the first inning was a good example of that."

Thames said the break accomplished exactly what he hoped it would.

"Just hearing Counsell's voice, like, there's no pressure, just take a few days off, breathe and get back to it, and I was like, 'All right.' I did," Thames said. "I relaxed for a few days, I was hanging out with (hitting coach Darnell Coles) a lot and talking mechanics, and I was just able to breathe and let all of the All-Star Game stuff and all the pressure stuff go. Now I'm just playing. Everybody is just feeling the mojo off of each other, so we're going to keep rolling."

Matt Garza gets the ball Wednesday for Milwaukee, which begins the day atop the National League Central, 3 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Cubs, whom they will face Thursday in a makeup game at Wrigley Field.

Garza (3-4, 3.46 ERA) allowed two runs on six hits over five innings but didn't take a decision his last time out, a 3-2 Milwaukee victory over Miami on Friday.

In 13 career starts against the Orioles, Garza is 9-1 with a 3.11 ERA. He has not faced Baltimore since 2014, however.

Aquino will be opposing Milwaukee for the first time.

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