The Baltimore Orioles optioned Jake Arrieta back to Norfolk in the wake of last night’s 5-1 loss in Detroit, and are expected to recall southpaw Zach Britton to make tonight’s start later today. Arrieta was behind for virtually his entire outing last night after giving up a two-run homer in the first inning to Miguel Cabrera. Arrieta’s line: 4.2 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 3 K. I felt that Arrieta would be on a bit of a short leash for most of the night given the fact that this was a spot start as it was, and that ended up being the case. The O’s will have to make two roster moves before tonight’s game, one for Arrieta and the other for Miguel Gonzalez who will be put on the paternity list.
With the Birds trailing 2-0 in the second following the aforementioned Cabrera homer, Chris Davis kept them temporarily afloat with a solo shot to right center. Davis continued his amazing season with his big league-leading 24th homer of the season. He’s on pace to at the very least put his name up there with some very elite people in a sense. Detroit would put three more runs on the board against Arrieta with two RBI-singles and a sac fly to run the score to 5-1, which was the final. The bright spot for the Birds as usual was the bullpen; both Troy Patton and Pedro Strop came on and pitched well in relief, surrendering four hits and striking out two batters between them. Strop was brought in effectively for mop-up duty in a sense, however that was probably done to get his confidence up a bit. If last night’s performance is any indication, it worked.
However the story of the night was what the Orioles would do with Jake Arrieta. Speaking for myself, I think he has far too much talent to rot in triple-A, however whether or not he can mentally get it together enough to be a consistent major league pitcher is of question. Miguel Cabrera set the tone for Arrieta’s outing with the first inning home run, and while it might be worth mentioning that Arrieta probably limited damage as well as he could, he also put the O’s in a hole. Buck Showlter often points out the fact that pitching at this level is tough, however the Birds are going to need better than a five-run outing out of a starter on a consistent basis in order to keep that pitcher in the big leagues.
In fairness, the offense didn’t offer much last night in the way of run support. Furthermore I suspect that Arrieta would have been sent back to the minors regardless of the outcome of last night’s game. Jason Hammel is being scratched again while he continues to recover from a stomach virus, and as I said above the Birds are expected to recall Zach Britton to make the start tonight. (Britton will be the corresponding roster move for Arrieta.)
Steve Melewski of masnsports.com also submitted this report overnight to the tune that the O’s are possibly going to call up Travis Ishikawa to the big leagues. Obviously Ishikawa isn’t going to take Chris Davis’ spot at first base anytime soon, however he has the option of opting out of his contract if he isn’t called the the major leagues. Ishikawa was prepared to do just that, and Dan Duquette was trying to work out a trade for him over the weekend. I suspect that calling him to the big leagues is just a move to buy the Birds a few extra days to do just that, if in fact they call him up. Ishikawa was raking at triple-A Norfolk, and he was great for the Orioles in spring training.
Britton will be opposed tonight by Justin Verlander, who’s owned the O’s of late. However withstanding last night’s result, the Orioles still have one of the most potent offenses in the American League. If they can get some guys on base getting runs in will be much easier. What eventually happens with Arrieta is anyone’s guess. Could he be packaged with Ishikawa in a trade? I suspect not, but you never know.