There were times on Friday when Jake Arrieta looked
unhittable and there were times when he couldn’t finish off hitters the way a
pitcher at his talent level should, but the Orioles overcame his rocky fourth
inning to deliver a resounding 9-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins in the
sold-out home opener at Camden Yards.
So, what should we make of Jake?
He won back his place in the starting rotation with a strong performance this spring
and seemed poised to pop after a very difficult 2012 season. Instead, he
displayed both ends of the Jake Arrieta spectrum, handling the strong hitters
in the upper half of the Twins lineup and struggling against the less-heralded
guys at the other end of the batting order.
“In fairness to him, Minnesota – talking to our advance scouts -- they had a good
spring,’’ manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s a good club. That’s a tough
lineup. It’s a tough lineup to bullpen up against, too, because they’ve got
left, right, switch. They throw a lot of looks at you. They’re on their way to
getting back there again.
The Twins should get credit for some tough at-bats, but Arrieta again battled himself and
ran up his pitch count, a tendency that costs him baserunners and keeps him
from consistently working deep into games.
“You see why Jake has a chance to be so good and it kind of gets away from him a
little bit,’’ Showalter said. “We got back in that ballgame…we tied it up and
then go back out there and struggle a little bit. That’s something we need to
be better at.”
Maybe Arrieta is just changing the script. He delivered a terrific performance
against the Twins on Opening Day here a year ago, but followed that up with a
disappointing season that brought him to spring training needing to prove
himself all over again. This year, he’ll need to get more consistent in
relatively short order, because Showalter has some attractive other options
waiting in the wings.