Largely lost in tonight’s 11-0 offensive rout was the performance of starter Jake Arieta, although the 25-year-old certainly went out and set the tone.
He tossed six scoreless innings for his third quality start in four tries, holding a Twins lineup –that was without Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau — in check despite some command issues.
“At times, his breaking ball was unhittable,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Arrieta, who used a plus-fastball to set up his offspeed. “He misfired a little bit here and there…He’s got a great fastball. The trouble that he got into, he kind of regrouped and made some pitches when he had to/”
Arrieta scattered four hits and would have gone longer, but a trio of walks ran his pitch count to 108, prompting manager Buck Showalter to turn the game over to the bullpen for the final nine outs.
“He’s driven to be good,” Showalter said of Arrieta, who is intensely competitive.
“He holds himself to a high standard – sometimes too high, which I’m not going to keep him from doing. He’s going to give himself a chance to be successful. You can’t always say that about everybody.”
Arrieta only had one clean inning Tuesday night, but he kept the Twins in check with runners on base, getting solid play from shortstop Robert Andino — playing in lieu of the injured J.J. Hardy — and a double play to final batter Danny Valencia. While pleased with his overall performance, Arrieta wasn’t totally satisfied.
“It would have been great to get in the seventh or eighth inning with a little bit lower pitch count, but that wasn’t the case,” said Arrieta, who turned the ball over to reliever Jason Berken. “I want to pitch deeper in games and that’s not only going to benefit me but it’s going to help our offense, help our bullpen. That’s the kind of guy I want to be, someone who is going to go out there and not give the ball up until the seventh or eighth inning. Just got to get out of some deep counts, that’s all.”
Catcher Matt Wieters, who Arrieta hailed for calling a great game, had this to say about his pitcher.
“Jake was outstanding,” Wieters said. “I think he got the first hitter of the inning out most of the time. He had outstanding stuff. He was great. He had two hitters where I think he had a little bit of a mental lapse and walked them there in the fourth or fifth inning but after that he was lights out.”
Showalter said prior to the game that he was looking at the stat sheet and noticed that Arrieta’s ERA wasn’t really in line with how good he is. Obviously it’s April and stats are always skewed this early in the season, but Arrieta has gotten off to a solid start. Even the lone bad outing he had against Texas, he had good stuff, he just struggled to get in a rhythm with backup catcher Jake Fox. His command unquestionably needs to improve. But for a guy who was in Triple-A at this time last season, he’s certainly impressive.