Buck Showalter says players don't get stronger this time of year, some just hold up better than others.
Jake Arrieta seems to be one of those players.
Even though he is now 22 innings over his 2009 total, Arrieta is thriving and tonight pitched six shutout innings in the O's 11-3 romp over Toronto.
He is now 6-6, 4.66 in 18 starts and is 2-0, 2.60 over his past three starts. This was his first start as a Major Leaguer where he did not allow a run.
"Big thing tonight was to go out there and keep these guys off balance. Keep them from getting comfortable sitting on fastballs. I think I did a good job of mixing in breaking balls in fastball counts. First-pitch breaking balls were big to get ahead," he said.
Also big is cutting down on the walks, just two over his past three starts, covering 17 1/3.
"It takes a lot of pressure off of you. It's a matter of finally getting comfortable and knowing that I don't have to give these hitters as much credit as I might have thought I needed to initially. That just comes with experience and innings."
Tonight's start could have been his last of the year. After pitching 150 2/3 innings last season, he is at 173 1/3 right now between Norfolk and Baltimore.
"I definitely don't want to be shut down. I want to finish the season out with everybody. But, you know, anytime you finish the season, you want to finish on a high note. If something like that were to happen, this is a good outing to finish on. But I definitely would like to make my last two starts."
Arrieta was asked why he is looking strong at a time when some pitchers and players might be fading a bit.
"I think your conditioning plays a huge role in that. Knowing every time you take the mound, you are physically conditioned enough to pitch deep into the game. Just because my innings are high doesn't mean I can't go out there and pitch well."
O's starters are now 4-0, 1.79 over the last eight games.
The club is working on its own finishing kick, now at 25-15 since Showalter took over.
"We've really turned the corner as a team. Our starters, our bullpen, everyone is stepping their game up. Obviously Buck has something to do with that, but the players, we're the ones out there. But Buck deserves a lot of credit for the things he has done with this team. It just feels really good to win games like we are right now," Arrieta said.