NEW YORK - You only had to look 60 feet, 6 inches to find two of the key components in the Orioles’ 5-0 victory over the Yankees.
Jake Arrieta tore through the Yankees’ lineup, shutting them out on five hits over eight innings, walking none and striking out nine. Catcher Matt Wieters guided Arrieta through yet another quality start by the Orioles and added a home run, double, single, walk and two RBIs.
“He was great,” Wieters said of Arrieta, who hadn’t won since Opening Day. “He had a lot of 1-2 counts where it could have ran to 2-2 or 3-2, especially with those hitters. They’re good at fouling off pitches and running counts deeper. And that’s how good his breaking ball was tonight, the way he was able to use it to put guys away, as well as he was able to locate his fastball, which got him into those 1-2 counts, which was big against that team.”
The rotation has posted a 1.65 ERA in the last 10 games, which includes nine quality starts.
“It’s big,” Wieters said. “Those guys have great stuff and great ability and now they’re starting to learn how to pitch and learn how to get deep into games and not sort of worry about getting their five or six innings. They go out there to win a game and try and finish it if they can.”
Asked about the Orioles building confidence, Wieters replied, “I think we’ve been confident all year. We trust our ability and we believe in the guys we have in that clubhouse. The big thing for us is not to try and get ahead of ourselves or try and get too down. It’s just go out there and play each game.
“This is a tough place to come in and win a series, but to be able to get two out of three is nice momentum going into Boston.”
Arrieta’s biggest challenge might have been waiting out a delay after Eric Chavez left the game in the middle of an at-bat with whiplash and a possible concussion. It took a while for Eduardo Nunez to find a bat and take his place.
“Just try to keep your focus,” he said. “There’s going to be long layoffs like that from time to time, not necessarily in the inning, but a long layoff in between innings when we’re on offense. You have to just stay mentally focused as best as you can, and throwing a couple warmup pitches during that layoff helped just to kind of keep the flow going there. It really wasn’t an issue. Just got to deal with it.”
Arrieta had to wait a while for his second win of the season. Was it frustrating?
No, not really,” he said. “I try not to dwell too much on those things, because I know with the work that I do, the four days leading up to my start are eventually going to pay off. It’s just a matter of continuing to get your work in and being confident in yourself.”
Arrieta is always impressed with Wieters.
“I’ve played with him since 2007 and he gets better and better every year,” Arrieta said. “Every day it seems like. And he’s really, really comfortable now in the big leagues. Not that he shouldn’t be. He’s a tremendous player and very smart and knowledgeable, not only what he does on the field, but his preparation is better than almost anybody I’ve ever seen. The talent that he has combined with his work ethic, his ability is off the charts.”
Now, about the rotation allowing two runs or fewer in every game of this series...
“I think it has a lot to do with the maturity of our young pitchers, myself and (Brian) Matusz included, as well as Tommy (Hunter),” Arrieta said. “(Jason) Hammel is not a young pitcher, but he’s new to this team. I think it’s up to some of the young guys like Matusz and myself to really start to show our maturity and really pitch these type of ballgames.”
Arrieta relied more on his breaking stuff in this start.
“Early in the game, showing those guys you can throw it for strikes, because by the third inning, if you haven’t thrown a significant amount of breaking balls for strikes, when you need to put a guy away and you need to bury a breaking ball below the zone, chances are they aren’t going to chase it,” he said. “That’s what’s really huge, to throw my slider for strikes, throw my curve ball for strikes early in the game, knowing that I can throw that pitch for strikes. I was able to command all my pitches for strikes, threw a few changeups, got some big outs with it. That’s the type of outing I should have every time out.”
So, are the Orioles gaining confidence?
“We’ve got a great team,” he replied. “We all know that in order to get people on board, we’ve got to show it. We plan on playing the baseball we’ve been playing, especially against these guys, a divisional opponent that we’re going to play a lot.
“To win two of three in Yankee Stadium is big, especially after losing the first one. A lot of great effort out of everyone in our clubhouse in this series. Really happy with this series.”
Sounds like they’re having fun.