TORONTO — Orioles reliever Darren O'Day took the high road when asked about the words he's exchanged with Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista the past two days.
At the same time, he gave Bautista credit for getting the best of him in Saturday's 4-2 loss to the Blue Jays. He also said he made a horrible pitch to Bautista on the 3-2 slider Bautista hit out for the game-winning homer.
Credit Darren O'Day for leaving the war of words on the field. Bautista chose to bash O'Day to the media after his crowning moment.
O'Day didn't. He is not a showboater. He doesn't need the attention. When he struck out Bautista on Friday in an extremely high-pressure situation, maybe he pumped his fist. Maybe he said something. Maybe he gave Bautista a glare. But I don't think any of that was intended to show Bautista up.
That's not O'Day's game. Neither is calling Bautista out.
Fast forward to today. The Orioles will try to avoid getting swept for just the second time this season in a three-game series and their first time on the road.
Sunday's starter, Freddy Garcia, is 9-8 with a 5.74 ERA in 21 career games against the Blue Jays and is 5-5 with a 6.22 ERA at the Rogers Centre, but he pitched pretty well in his last start in Toronto on May 25, allowing three runs – two earned – over five innings in a 6-5 win over the Jays.
Garcia hasn't started a game since June 15, and has pitched just one relief inning since. He hasn't gone that long between starts this season, but he showed the past two years in New York that he could be flexible moving between the rotation and the 'pen. If there's anyone best suited for that, it's Garcia.
While we are talking about pitching, right-hander Jake Arrieta performed well in his first start at Triple-A Norfolk since he was optioned following Monday's game. He allowed two runs on six hits over six innings, striking out five and walking none.
What does that mean? Not that much. It's better than the alternative, but we've seen Arrieta dominate Triple-A before. The organization is keeping him in the rotation for now, but they're eventually going to have to think long and hard about how Arrieta fits and what's best for his development. It's just a guess on my part, but I'm thinking Arrieta might eventually be moved to the 'pen, where he can concentrate on pitching in smaller spurts. Once he's successful there, you hope he can expand that approach.
Again, just a guess.
I know fans believe that Steve Pearce's move to the DL is a phantom one, but I've seen Pearce with his wrists wrapped after games, and you constantly see him with a bat in his hand, more than likely heading to the cages. Pearce said it himself: The Orioles physically had to take the bat out of his hands.