By Dan Connolly
The Baltimore Sun
6:00 AM EDT, April 17, 2013
Orioles manager Buck Showalter often is tough on pitcher Jake Arrieta, pointing out things the 27-year-old right-hander didn’t do well when he turns in a strong performance.
Tuesday was another adequate but uninspiring start this season from Arrieta, who allowed one run on three hits and five walks in five innings. He threw 112 pitches, 63 strikes, and couldn’t record an out in the sixth.
Showalter wasn’t too critical of Arrieta this time, though. In fact, he seemed annoyed by the line of questioning afterward – basically saying that Arrieta needs to have better control and go deeper in games, but he won Tuesday and that should be the main point of emphasis.
Hard to know exactly what to read into Showalter’s comments and tone. Maybe he was sending a message of support to Arrieta. Maybe he’s sick of hearing about his talented right-hander’s inconsistency within games. Maybe he’s sick of witnessing Arrieta’s inconsistency, but is trying to mask that by shrugging off the questions. Maybe he just wasn’t in the mood to answer questions. That happens, too.
My bottom line in this: Five innings in three consecutive starts is not good enough at the major league level. I know that, you know that, Showalter knows that and Arrieta knows that. But Arrieta will get a long leash because there is so much promise there.
As for Arrieta, he felt like his command was off “a tick,” but overall was OK with his outing. Again, there were glimpses of the guy we all expect to see: He struck out seven, including five in a six-batter sequence. And there was a glimpse of the guy we hate to see: He threw 10 balls in 11 pitches at one point.
Still, he gave up just one run. If he can get more consistent command – it took him a while to get the feel of his breaking pitches Tuesday – he should be effective more times than not. But it would be nice to write about Arrieta without throwing the ‘ifs’ around.
** Pitching prospect Kevin Gausman had a rough start at Double-A Bowie on Tuesday. Gausman gave up 10 hits, walked none and struck out five in the no decision. He also threw two wild pitches, hit a batter and committed an error.
Afterward, his manager, Gary Kendall, praised Gausman for settling down and pitching well after an ugly beginning.
“It’s very easy for a guy to just cash it in after seeing five runs up there in two innings, but he went out there and competed,” Kendall said. “There are a lot of times you go out there without your ‘A’ game and you make some mistakes and how you handle that is important. He showed a lot of poise and a lot of composure and kept us in the game.”
My take: Sometimes, it’s better to fail on occasion in the minors, so there is a baseline of experience when it happens at higher levels. Gausman will bounce back, I’m sure.
** Not sure how many of you saw it, but Chris Davis struck out in the third inning and then snapped his bat in two over his knee – Bo Jackson style.
Davis doesn’t show a whole lot of frustration, but when he does, it’s worth watching. Boy is that hard to do.
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