Jake Arrieta’s next turn in the rotation comes on Monday, and it appears that he’ll make the start after holding the Pirates to one run over seven innings tonight in a 7-1 victory.
Arrieta found out this afternoon that he’d be replacing left-hander Brian Matusz, who was pushed back to Friday.
“I tapped him on the shoulder about 2:30 in the food room and said, ‘You’re pitching tonight,’” manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s kind of out of the bag. I can’t do it in five days now, so that’s a one-time pop. We’ll see.
“He had a good outing tonight and I’m proud of him. And he served a need we had with Brian, being cautious with him. His next turn in the rotation if he took it would be on (Monday). I don’t see why anything he did tonight wouldn’t dictate that he wouldn’t do that.”
Arrieta won for the first time since May 2.
“He had better fastball command,” Showalter said. “Thought he had good tempo, aggressive. I think the thing that bothers anybody, especially pitchers, you go back to the hotel or apartment and think, ‘Geez, I wish I had been a little more aggressive or went after somebody.’ I think the thing that keeps you up at night is the lack of just getting in the fire and competing. And competing isn’t a problem with Jake. It’s just realizing... I wish he could hit off himself sometimes.
“Command the fastball and you can compete at this level, as long as you’re not carrying around a dud. Jake realizes that. This isn’t the first good game he’s ever pitched here, but there’s no way he should be carrying around some of the... If you look at the numbers, they don’t add up to the ERA.
“I thought one of the keys tonight was the ground ball back to him that he wasn’t able to make the play on, and he didn’t let the inning get away from him. That’s been a challenge for him.”
“He’s been a little down on himself,” Showalter said. “He’s been frustrated and I’m glad to see him get to go home knowing he made a big contribution tonight.”
The night included two oddities: A 7-1 force at third base, with reliever Pedro Strop covering third base, and Chris Davis’ broken-bat home run.
“What a play Strop made,” Showalter said. “You guys put 7-1 down in your scorebook much in a 7-1 game? Anybody into numeralology?”
Asked if he enjoyed Davis’ bat-shattered power display, Showalter replied, “No, because it almost took Nick Johnson’s head off. Somebody said that the bat had to be cracked. OK, it was cracked. It was still impressive. He’s a big, strong man. I barely saw it because, one, you’re getting out of the way, and two, you’re hoping it doesn’t hit somebody.”