OAKLAND, Calif — Orioles manager Buck Showalter's focus was on the Oakland Athletics on Friday night, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have an eye on what was happening in Charlotte.
Right-hander Jake Arrieta, who was demoted Monday after compiling a 6.63 ERA in four big league starts, made his 2013 Triple-A debut Friday night for the Norfolk Tides at the Charlotte Knights.
Facing the Chicago White Sox’s Triple-A affiliate, which has several former major leaguers including Brent Morel, Lars Anderson and ex-Orioles Josh Bell and Steve Tolleson, Arrieta passed his first test down below.
The 27-year-old allowed three hits in six scoreless innings, striking out eight and picking up seven of his other eight outs on groundballs. Perhaps more important, Arrieta didn’t issue any walks — something he had struggled with in the majors.
When asked Friday what Showalter wanted to see from Arrieta, the manager said, simply: “Command.”
“In a perfect world, you’d like to see him carry the stuff he had up here and have a little better command of it,” Showalter said.
Arrieta threw 54 of his 94 pitches for strikes. He likely could have gone longer if the organization had wanted — something he also failed to do this month for the big league club.
Showalter said he wasn’t going to over-analyze Arrieta’s statistics against lesser competition, butobviously he also wanted to see Arrieta have good numbers while at Triple-A.
“It’s kind of a two-edged sword,” Showalter said. “He is going down there to work on some things, but he’s also going down there to pitch well enough. You want to see some things statistically too.”
No Nate to start
Showalter said he was somewhat tempted to start outfielder Nate McLouth against Oakland left-hander Tommy Milone on Friday, but he decided to play right-handers Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearce as he has done against other tough southpaws.
McLouth had reached base 15 of his past 25 plate appearances heading into Friday, but Showalter thinks one of the reasons he has been so good is that he has gotten regular breathers.
“Part of the reason Nate is doing so well is that he’s got really fresh legs,” Showalter said. “It’s always tempting when you have a good player.”
Around the horn
Reserve catcher Taylor Teagarden will start Saturday behind the plate against the A’s. Showalter said he has not yet made a decision on who will be the starting pitcher Monday at Seattle. Zach Britton and Freddy Garcia are options. … Since last year’s July 31 trade deadline, the Orioles and the San Francisco Giants have the most regular season wins in baseball heading into Friday night: 52. The Orioles (52-29, .642) actually have a higher winning percentage than the Giants (52-30, .634). Going back to Aug. 22, 2011, only the Rangers (131) have more wins than the Orioles (128). The Washington Nationals also had 128. … Friday’s Orioles-A’s game at the Coliseum started about 25 minutes before tip-off of the Golden State Warriors-Denver Nuggets playoff game at the Oracle Arena, which shares a parking lot with the Coliseum.