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Orioles have right to be concerned about Jake Arrieta

Kevin Cowherd

8:11 PM EDT, April 21, 2013

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For those of you who get all worked up about how Pedro Strop wears his cap — and I hear about this every time he takes the mound — you may want to start worrying about another Orioles pitcher right now.

Yes, I'm talking about Jake Arrieta, who has issues that go well beyond wearing his cap at a crazy angle.

In his fourth start of the season, the 27-year-old righty had another rough outing in the Orioles' 7-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers Sunday. And it was a major reason why the Orioles couldn't sweep the inter-league series against a Dodgers team with a $216 million payroll that seemed ripe to be put away in the first few innings.

In a moment we'll get to a couple of the positives that came of this game for the Orioles, because it's too early for total doom-and-gloom with a team that's 10-8 the last week in April.

But Arrieta's outing was definitely a cause for concern. And the alarm bells have to be clanging in the Orioles' front office.

Buck Showalter hinted the team may make a move soon with a pitcher needed for Wednesday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Raise your hand if you think that sounds ominous for Arrieta, who could be headed back to Triple-A Norfolk to work out his problems.

The ugly numbers for Arrieta look like this: this was the fourth straight time he failed to make it to the sixth inning of a game.

He gave up five runs Sunday, all of them earned. He allowed just two hits, but walked five and plunked another batter.

The guy has all the talent in the world. And everyone knows it. But his ERA now stands at 6.33 and he continues to struggle with his control and consistency. And he admits he turns into a mini-Mt. Vesuvius and loses his concentration when the game starts to get away from him, as it did Sunday.

Oh, yeah, it was a familiar story for Arrieta.

He looked All-World in the first two innings, got nicked for a run in the third before blowing a 93-mph fastball past Matt Kemp to end the inning and set the Dodgers down in order in the fourth.

Then the roof caved in in the fifth with a walk, a hit batsman, another walk and a single by A.J. Ellis to make it 4-3 Orioles. And now Arrieta was getting the hook from Showalter and walking off the mound to a weird cacaphony of cheers and boos as T.J. McFarland trotted in to try and clean up the mess.

"I don't want to beat myself up too much about it, but I will today," Arrieta said when it was over.

Then he proceeded to stand in front of his locker and do just that to a knot of TV cameras, microphones and notebooks.

"If you watch the first couple of innings, there's no reason I'm not pitching into the eighth today," he said. "And that's frustrating. Using the bullpen too much is frustrating. ... Gotta clean it up. Gotta get better at that."

OK, now onto a couple of the bright spots before some Orioles fans go into their usual emotional death-spiral after this one.

That was another great crowd out at Camden Yards, an announced 41,265 on a chilly, sun-dappled day to bring the nine-game season total to 277,359.

Average attendance is 30,818 and there's no question there's been a turbo-charge in fan energy level after last year's magical 93-win season and playoff run.

There was also this: the middle of the order — Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Chris "Crush"Davis — continued to look like a mini-Murderer's Row by going 7-for-11 with three runs scored, a double, a home run and two RBIs.

And it's been like that since the beginning of the season. In the team's 18 games, the 3-4-5 hitters are batting .356 with 18 doubles, 14 homers, 43 runs scored and 47 RBIs.

Jones and Davis, in particular, continue to tear up opposing pitching. Between the two of them, they're batting .380 with 14 doubles, 10 homers, 28 runs scored and 36 RBIs since the beginning of the season. Let Davis snap all the bats he wants.

But that didn't do a whole lot to cheer up Jones when Sunday's game was over.

"It's always good when you're swinging the bats," the center fielder said. "But we want the win. There's been days when the bottom of the lineup picks us up ... today the middle of the lineup did good.

"But we need the full balance. We need everybody. We want the whole team to hit. Obviously that's not gonna happen every night, but that's what we strive for."

They didn't get that Sunday. And they didn't get what they needed out of Jake Arrieta.

But it was way too early for doom-and-gloom. And no one knew that better than Adam Jones.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

twitter.com/kevincowherdsun

Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."

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