SARASOTA, Fla. - The competition for the last spot in the Orioles rotation heats up again today with Jake Arrieta taking the mound against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin.
Everyone here would appreciate a little heat. We're enduring another chilly morning, which brings little sympathy from my friends up north.
Arrieta was fantastic in his last start, blanking the Pittsburgh Pirates on two hits, walking none and striking out five in four innings. The only criticism was his ball/strike ratio. He went to a full count on four straight batters, but retired all of them.
Arrieta was the first pitcher in camp to go four innings. Brian Matusz did the same against the Minnesota Twins in Fort Myers, when he allowed only one baserunner - on a walk - and struck out seven.
Zach Britton turned in his best performance of the spring yesterday, allowing no runs and one hit in 3 2/3 innings. His only walks came in his final frame.
Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland retired all nine batters he faced yesterday, and he hasn't allowed a run in his last two appearances covering five innings. Manager Buck Showalter has been impressed with McFarland in the left-hander's last three outings since he made some adjustments in the bullpen with pitching coach Rick Adair.
Steve Johnson tossed four scoreless innings in Tuesday's intrasquad game. Jair Jurrjens struck out eight batters over three innings.
That's what I mean by heating up.
Arrieta, the opening day starter in 2012, needs a similar performance today to perhaps take the lead in this competition, if he isn't already in front. He can't regress today.