ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Orioles snapped a five-game road losing streak yesterday, and now they have a chance to win this series after dropping the last three.
Left-hander Brian Matusz's gem made it easy to overlook the offense, which continued to scuffle. Two runs were enough yesterday, but that won't usually be the case.
The Orioles have scored 16 runs in their last seven games, an average of 2.3. I'm sure Jake Arrieta would appreciate more support today, just in case he doesn't bring his best stuff again.
Arrieta received 6.86 runs per game last season, the third-highest total in the majors. Maybe his presence on the mound will spark an onslaught against Rays left-hander Matt Moore, who's 1-5 with a 4.76 ERA.
Arrieta's lost four of his last five starts and six of his last seven decisions. He's totaled 10 innings in his last two starts, allowing 11 runs (10 earned) and 14 hits, walking six and striking out seven. He's surrendered six earned runs or more in three of his last five outings.
If the Orioles had more rotation choices, he might have been optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. They want Zach Britton to make at least one more start on his injury-rehab assignment. Tommy Hunter gave up one run in seven innings in Game 1 of Norfolk's doubleheader yesterday, but it's premature to assume he's already on track.
That doesn't mean Arrieta is untouchable when it comes to roster moves. He'll need to dial it up here, or the Orioles will be forced to consider someone else. Anyone else.
We need to keep an eye on Chris Tillman. He allowed one hit in eight scoreless innings in his last start, walking one and striking out nine. His fastball was consistently 93 mph, and he touched 95. In his previous start, he allowed two runs and five hits in six innings, with three walks and six strikeouts.
Tillman has permitted three runs or fewer in five of his last six outings. He's 4-7 with a 4.15 ERA in 11 games, with 64 hits, 25 walks and 58 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings. He's surrendered only three home runs.
Manager Buck Showalter brought up Tillman's name on Friday, so he's at least intrigued.
By the way, left-handers are batting .254 against Tillman this season, compared to .293 by right-handers. Go figure.
I've been asked about Steve Johnson's status. He can opt out of his contract, but we might not have a resolution until Monday. It's a process.
Johnson was supposed to start Friday night before the Tides' game was rained out. He warmed up and never got to pitch. He didn't start either game of yesterday's doubleheader.
I'll be heading to Tropicana Field in a few hours, and I'll get to meet newest Oriole, Steve Pearce, and confirm that his uniform number is 51. Got to get the important stuff out of the way first.
Maybe he'll be in the lineup today against Moore if Showalter is looking to stack the lineup with right-handed hitters. However, left-handers are hitting .353 against Moore this season, compared to .223 for right-handers.