The curious case of starter Jake Arrieta continued on Thursday night, as the right-hander’s poor showing negated a windfall of offense, backing Baltimore into a 9-7 series-opening loss to the Angels and forcing the Orioles to option their third starting pitcher in a week.
For the second time in three starts, Arrieta failed to go four innings, and the 26-year-old did nothing to quell the uneasiness regarding his performance this season. Instead, he made it an all-too easy decision for the Oriole brass to send him to Triple-A Norfolk after surrendering six runs on five hits and three walks over a mere 11 outs.
“I’ve said it many times. It ain’t good enough,” said manager Buck Showalter, who has also sent pitchers Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter, both part of the team’s Opening Day rotation, to the Minor Leagues.
“We’ve got to get better and I think our guys understand that carrying around 6.00 ERAs in the American League just don’t cut it.”
The Orioles’ Opening Day starter, Arrieta (3-9, 6.18 ERA) has shown flashes of brilliance — including May 2’s eight-inning start in which no Yankees batter touched second base — but those flashes have been few and far between. Following a seven-game stretch in which he went 0-6 with a 9.43 ERA, Arrieta was briefly demoted to the bullpen, but he never pitched in relief before an injury to Matusz put him back in the rotation. Arrieta looked as if he had turned the corner over the next three games, pitching to a 2.70 ERA and going six or more innings in each start, but Thursday’s debacle was the second consecutive poor outing, and the Orioles –at least for now – have seen enough.
Speaking before he knew of the team’s decision to option him, Arrieta had a hard time justifying that he deserved another start at this level.
“I really don’t know,” he said when asked if he had done enough to warrant a second-half rotation spot. “I would like to say yes, but with the struggles and with the way the first half was, you know, who knows? I mean, am I confident that things are going to turn around and be more positive in the second half? Yeah, absolutely. There’s no question about that. But right now the first half ended on a bad note.”