Arrieta: ‘I think I need to relax a little bit’
After turning in his worst start of the season –and the shortest start by an Oriole this year –Jake Arrieta sat in the team’s video room Sunday evening going over what had gone wrong. Following a brilliant outing in New York, in which no Yankee batter even reached second base, Arrieta has struggled to regain that form and establish any consistency, allowing 13 earned runs in 10 innings on 19 hits and three walks over his last two starts.
On Sunday, the 26-year-old right-hander surrendered seven earned runs (a season-high) on 10 hits (a new career-high) and two walks, exiting after 3 2/3 innings and putting his team in an early 7-1 hole.
What exactly has gone wrong for Arrieta? Physically, it’s been his fastball command a problem identified by both manager Buck Showalter and Arrieta after the game. It’s also a little bit mental, as Arrieta –who has admitted that he can be his own worst enemy – said Sunday that he’s been putting too much pressure on himself to put up quality outings.
“I need to relax a little bit, and trust myself, because I’m more than capable of making good pitches when I need to get guys out,” said Arrieta, who shut down the Yankees for eight innings on May 2.
“It’s just a matter of going out there and doing it and not trying to do too much. Certain times I try to muscle it up and try to blow the ball by a guy and end up leaving it up, rather than just being good mechanically and executing down in the zone. I just need to get back to that. Take a little pressure off myself, and go out there and pitch.”
The Orioles Opening Day starter, Arrieta tossed seven scoreless innings against the Twins –not allowing a batter to reach third – and he said Sunday his stuff was good, he just couldn’t make a quality pitch when necessary.
“I don’t think it’s real complicated,” Showalter said of Arrieta’s inconsistency. “Command the fastball at this level with his stuff, you’ve got a chance to have success, and that’s pretty much a direct correlation when he pitches well and when he has some struggles.”
Arrieta was hit hard by a Rays team that entered Sunday ranked ninth in the American League in batting average, sixth in runs scored and 11th in hits. Tampa Bay entered Sunday having scored more than six runs just twice in its last 21 games, but managed to plate seven runs off Arrieta in the Orioles’ 9-8 loss.
“I think it really comes down to four fastballs that were elevated with guys on base that they were able to put good swings on it,” Arrieta said. “So, really the only thing I take away from it is, just I got to get the ball down. Especially with guys on base in situations like that. Because the breaking balls were good today and I had a good fastball. But when I needed to locate down in counts I knew they were going to be hacking, I couldn’t do that.”