BALTIMORE (AP) — About four hours before the Orioles faced the Pittsburgh Pirates, manager Buck Showalter walked up to struggling Jake Arrieta and told the right-hander he would be replacing Brian Matusz as Baltimore's starting pitcher.
The element of surprise might have been a factor in Arrieta's exceptional performance. Unfortunately for Showalter, it's not a ploy that can be repeated.
Arrieta struck out nine over seven steady innings, Wilson Betemit had a season-high three hits and drove in three runs, and the Orioles cruised past the Pirates 7-1 Wednesday night for their fourth straight victory.
Demoted to the bullpen after an ineffective outing Friday night against Philadelphia, Arrieta turned out to be the logical replacement for Matusz, who fouled a baseball off his nose Tuesday during bunting practice and was at less than 100 percent.
The injury was only a bruise, but Showalter thought it was better to pitch Arrieta on four days' rest and use Matusz on Friday.
Arrieta (3-8) was dominant in ending a six-game losing streak. He gave up one run and seven hits, and the nine strikeouts matched a career high. It was the first win since May 2 for Baltimore's opening day starter.
"I'm not going to overthink it," Showalter said. "I tapped him on the shoulder about 2:30 in the food room and said, 'You're pitching tonight.' It's kind of out of the bag. I can't do it in five days now, so that's a one-time pop."
Arrieta didn't have time to think about the pressure of trying to get back on track. And that was a good thing.
"I went back to doing some things I was doing when I was successful," he said. "Kind of made some things a lot more simple than they were a couple weeks ago. I wasn't thinking as much. Going out there and really executing. I think it was nice to be out there in the bullpen for a few games and just stop thinking about some things."