I’m not sure if last night’s game qualifies as a spot start out of the bullpen for Jake Arrieta, however the fact is that he started due to Brian Matusz’s nose injury. And it worked! Arrieta’s line: 7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 K. After the game not only did manager Buck Showalter seem to indicate that Arrieta was back in the starting rotation, but Arrieta himself said that he went back to doing some things that he was doing when he was successful earlier in the year. He seemed to indicate that he was over-thinking his approach to games from time to time, which tells me that the issue was more behind the seams than it was with his “stuff.” Pitchers by nature are going to get themselves into trouble; the men get separated from the boys in terms of how you handle that trouble. Arrieta pitched his way out of it last night and didn’t let innings blow up on him.
This was a very well-balanced game for the Orioles, who with the 7-1 victory have now quietly won four straight games. Whereas over the weekend it seemed that Adam Jones and Matt Wieters got all of the headlines (in the Philadelphia series), last night it was Wilson Betemit’s turn. Betemit was 3-for-3 at the plate with three RBI, seven total bases, and a home run. The Orioles are getting amazing production when they need it from guys like Wilson Betemit who were merely supposed to be depth. One thing that I noticed was that the Birds seem to be much more adept at reading counts and anticipating pitches. Betemit’s homer came on a 1-1 count, which is a count in which a hitter might anticipate a fastball. That fastball came in the form of a “meatball” from Kevin Correia, however the fact is that the fastball was anticipated by Betemit.
I hate to say that you have to take this game with a grain of salt “because it’s against the Pirates,” but that seems to be what a lot of other folks are thinking. However in fairness to Pittsburgh, they are a major league club. How many times over the years did people say “it was a great game, but it was against the Orioles?” Buck Showalter seemed to indicate after the game that Arrieta would take his next turn in the rotation, which would be on Monday in NY against the Mets. Showalter doesn’t seem like the type of guy that’s going to simply re-insert a pitcher into the lineup because of one good outing. (Same as not abandoning a guy after one poor start.) However I think that he saw something from Arrieta in terms of preparedness and work over the course of the week which told him that he had gotten his bulldog mentality back. I guess we’ll find out on Monday.
The O’s will close out the homestand tonight at the yard against Pittsburgh before heading down to Atlanta and onto New York for a six-game road swing (all in NL parks). Tommy Hunter will get the ball for the Birds in the wake of returning from the minors and having a great start on Saturday against the Phillies. Opposing Hunter will be old friend Erik Bedard, who’s 4-6 on the year. Bedard of course has never regained the form he had early in his career while with the O’s. He’s been injured more than he’s played, and inconsistent when he’s been in games. Needless to say, the Orioles got the better of the Adam Jones/Erik Bedard trade!
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