If you're trying to figure out what happened to Jake Arrieta in the fifth inning on Saturday night, join the club. He was on absolute cruise control until the Orioles knocked a little of the wind out of Angels starter Jered Weaver.
I'll play psychologist here for a second. It seems that Arrieta, who was overpowering up to that point, lost focus after he threw away a pickoff throw for the second time in the game. He went from dominating the heart of the Angels explosive lineup to walking the No. 7 and No. 9 hitters to set a five-run inning in motion. He pitched to nine batters in the fifth and got just one out after retiring 12 consecutive batters.
"He pitched as good a four innings as you'd ever want to see,'' said manager Buck Showalter afterward. "Seemed like a concentration thing."
That's got to be very deflating for the Orioles, especially after Matt Wieters had launched a two-run homer off Weaver in the top of the inning to break the scoreless tie.
Arrieta made no excuses.
"Things just kind of snowballed,'' he said on the MASN postgame show. "The game sped up a little bit and I wasn't able to regain control...I really let a really good outing slip away. Matt put us in front with that two-run shot and I wasn’t able to put up a zero for the guys, so I let them down tonight.”
Arrieta is a standup guy, but he has to show more mental toughness than that if he wants to be considered a legitimate No. 1 starter.