Checking on Arrieta

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Jake Arrieta allowed one run tonight for Triple-A Norfolk. That's a good thing.

Arrieta failed to complete six innings again because of his high pitch count. That's a bad thing.

Greg Burke replaced Arrieta with the bases loaded and two outs, and he walked Columbus' Matt Pagnozzi to force in a run. Arrieta is charged with two runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings, with four walks, five strikeouts, a wild pitch and a hit batter. He threw 116 pitches, 64 for strikes.

The Orioles must decide whether Arrieta's done enough to warrant a return. He's allowed nine runs and 24 hits in 22 1/3 innings over four starts, with 11 walks and 18 strikeouts.

Arrieta was facing a team that led the International League with a .275 average before tonight.

In his last start, Arrieta allowed three runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings against Lehigh Valley, with three walks and two strikeouts. Again, he couldn't get through the sixth.

It's been speculated that Arrieta could take Zach Britton's next start. Britton is 1-1 with an 8.35 ERA in four starts for the Orioles, with 14 walks in 18 1/3 innings. The Yankees battered him yesterday for seven runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings.

Arrieta was 3-9 with a 6.13 ERA in 18 starts with the Orioles, including the opener, before being optioned to Norfolk.

In one scenario, the Orioles could option Britton tomorrow to make room for outfielder Nate McLouth, and recall Arrieta to make Tuesday's start against the Mariners at Camden Yards. In another scenario, they could keep Arrieta in the minors until he becomes more economical with his pitchers and allow Britton to take his next turn.

As long as I'm checking on the happenings at Norfolk, I'll mention that Joe Mahoney hit his ninth home run tonight, a three-run shot in the first inning. Brandon Waring also homered in the first, giving him eight to go with the 11 he cranked out at Double-A Bowie.

Mahoney and LJ Hoes both have three hits tonight.

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