ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Orioles pitcher Jake Arrieta vowed to continue working hard and not allow himself to get too down after a third straight poor outing resulted in his seventh loss.
Asked what went wrong after retiring the first nine batters, Arrieta paused before saying, "Honestly, I'm not really sure. I was commanding the ball well. I wasn't able to get ahead of a few guys there in the fifth inning. They weren't hitting me. I was letting them on base for free. That's pretty uncharacteristic, because my command's been so much better and I've been able to pound the zone, but I got to a point in the game there where things just started to unravel for whatever reason. Putting guys on base like that for free, all they've got to do is get a base hit or a double and they're going to be able to put a couple runs across. That's what happened there in the fifth.
"Only giving up two hits, that's a frustrating way to leave the game, allowing two hits and putting four guys on base for free. And against a team like this that's patient and will wait you out, that's really something you can't do.
"What I did today, when I get to my balance point, what I've done in the past is I've got a hip tilt, so basically I've changed my direction from on target to toward a right-handed hitter. I did a very good job of that early in the game, and even in the game later when I was putting guys on base, I was missing down. That's where I want to miss if I'm going to be out of the zone. But I have to be better about that earlier in the count, continuing to get ahead of guys.
"Again, it's just real frustrating to leave that game only giving up two hits. This is really uncharted territory for me. I haven't really had stretches like this where I've pitched this inconsistent. I've got to stay positive, because if I continue to get frustrated, it's only going to continue to be a struggle, so I've got to continue to work. I'm going to get out there every day and continue to work mechanically and make the adjustments.
"I know I can command the ball and throw strikes. That's not an issue. I've just got to get back on track. It's tough to go through a stretch like this, but I feel like my mentality and my work ethic and everything considered, it's just something that won't continue if I don't allow it. Just got to continue to work."
Is his confidence shaken?
"It's not necessarily confidence," he replied. "My confidence is always up. I know what I'm capable of and I know what I can do on any given night. I think it's just that frustration sets in from time to time. Having an inning where I give up one hit but they manage to score two runs off two free passes, or whatever the case may be, that's where the frustration comes from.
"As a consistent big league starter, it's a matter of putting it all together, and every fifth day, that's what I have to do. If I'm not going to go out there and have good stuff, I've still got to throw a lot of strikes and fill up the zone. I'm still searching for it, still searching for that consistency every time I go out. Right now, it's not there, and I've got to put that behind me and continue to move forward, because if I don't, it's going to get to me and it could continue to snowball. So I've just got to find a way. That's what it boils down to."
Arrieta isn't sure whether he's earned another start. He saw Tommy Hunter get optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. He knows the leashes eventually will tighten.
"I'm not pitching well right now," Arrieta said. "I'm struggling. There's no doubt about it. But I've had several games this year where it's obvious that I can pitch consistently at this level, so I think the staff is probably frustrated because they see that type of stuff and then they see three outings where I'm out in the fifth inning. I feel the frustration and I know they do, as well.
"I take it upon myself and I'm going to take it upon myself to make the adjustment and continue to pitch well for this team. As frustrating as it is to have seven losses, we're a game out of first place, so that's rewarding in the sense that, if I quickly turn this around, it's going to be very good for our ballclub, so that's the way I look at it.
"Staying positive will definitely help, but sometimes it's hard to when you have three outings in a row that are a struggle. But the season's so long and sometimes that's going to happen. But I'm confident that over the course of a season, things are going to even out. And I'm going to continue to work and get on the right path for this team, because I feel I'm too good not to."
Arrieta said this is the worst stretch of his professional career.
"Whatever I have to do, I've just got to continue to be positive and find the positive in everything, because if I get down on myself and continue this frustration, things could continue to go this way. But I'm really a firm believer that I'm not going to allow that to happen," he said.
"I've said in the past, it's been a struggle for the past month and that hurts and it's frustrating, but I'm confident that I won't let it continue, and whatever I've got to do, I'm going to do."
Catcher Matt Wieters said Arrieta lost a feel for his off-speed stuff and his breaking ball.
"It's something we'll keep trying to work on and keep trying to get the feel so it stays consistent for the whole game," Wieters said.
"I think it's frustrating when anybody on this team struggles because we have a lot of confidence in our ability. But it's something we're all going to go through at some points, where we've got to try to figure some things out and keep working. And Jake's definitely going to do his job of keep working and be ready to go next start.
"I think he's probably getting frustrated because he knows what kind of ability he has, but at the same time, we all go through dry spells. We all go through long patches. He'll keep working and take it to his bullpen session and try to figure it out."
Down on the farm, Brian Roberts went 1-for-4 with an RBI, a walk, a run scored and two strikeouts for Double-A Bowie.