Jake Arrieta struck out two batters in a routine first inning and needed only nine pitches to dispose of the Dodgers in the second. He threw 37 pitches in the third while walking three batters and surrendering a run. He struck out two and retired the side in order in the fourth. He couldn’t record an out in the fifth and was gone.
The Orioles are still trying to figure out a way for Arrieta to become a consistent major league starter. Game to game would be preferred. Right now, they would settle for inning to inning.
The Orioles could be running out of patience again after Arrieta was charged with five runs, walked five and hit a batter in four-plus innings to raise his ERA to 6.63. He allowed only two hits and he struck out six, but he mishandled a 4-1 lead.
Arrieta threw 91 pitches. Only 50 of them were strikes. He walked the leadoff hitter in the third and fifth innings.
The fifth was more than Showalter could stomach. Arrieta walked No. 8 hitter Skip Schumaker, nailed No. 9 hitter Justin Sellers and walked Carl Crawford to load the bases with none out. Mark Ellis followed with a two-run single, and Showalter emerged from the dugout.
Two mound visits by pitching coach Rick Adair didn’t help. A visit from catcher Matt Wieters didn’t help.
T.J. McFarland replaced Arrieta and let both inherited runners score on Adrian Gonzalez’s RBI double and Matt Kemp’s RBI single. Left fielder Nate McLouth couldn’t make a sliding catch of Gonzalez’s fly ball down line.
So what’s next for Arrieta? Too soon to know. Showalter isn’t going to decide his fate, or at least announce it, during the postgame interview.
The Orioles need a starter for Wednesday. They could option Arrieta to make room. They could option him before Monday’s game and bring up an extra reliever. They could give him another start and keep him out of Wednesday’s equation.
Jair Jurrjens is starting today for Triple-A Norfolk, in case you were wondering.
It’s conceivable that the Orioles bring up a reliever Monday to serve as the long man, then return him to Norfolk on Wednesday to create room for a starter, or let him make the start. That’s one scenario.
Arrieta has gone five, five, five and four innings in his four starts. He’s allowed 14 runs and 15 hits in 19 innings, with 16 walks and 20 strikeouts.
He’s an intriguing and frustrating talent. And make no mistake, he’s got talent. Yes, his “stuff” impresses scouts. So does his conditioning and work ethic. He’s got plus-pitches. He can absolutely dominate. Then he loses it.
Maybe he’s over-thinking it. Maybe it’s a confidence issue when he begins to lose command.
The Orioles are only down by a run in the top of the sixth. They jumped on Dodgers starter Stephen Fife early in the game, but couldn’t pile on. And Arrieta couldn’t protect the lead.
Arrieta is done. Fife is done.
Is Showalter done with Arrieta?
Update: The Dodgers extended their lead to 6-4 in the seventh with a run off McFarland.
Pedro Strop has retired all four batters he’s faced, with two strikeouts. That’s comforting.
Today’s attendance: 41,265
Pitching matchups for Toronto series:
Monday: Chris Tillman vs. J.A. Happ
Tuesday: Miguel Gonzalez vs. R.A. Dickey
Wednesday: TBA vs. Brandon Morrow
Update II: Left-hander Troy Patton gave up a run in the ninth on Jerry Hairston’s sacrifice fly, and the Orioles were denied a series sweep today with a 7-4 loss to the Dodgers.
Nolan Reimold singled off Dodgers closer Brandon League with one out in the ninth, but the Orioles couldn’t build on the rally.
The Orioles held leads of 3-0 and 4-1, but they ended up losing by three runs.
This one has to be disappointing in the home clubhouse, considering that Los Angeles put its scheduled starter, Chad Billingsley, on the disabled list this morning and used Fife in an emergency role.