At FanFest, Jake Arrieta was saying that having the bone spurs removed from his right elbow last August was going to provide a new-found flexibility and range of motion with his arm. He specifically felt that would most benefit his ability to throw more quality breaking balls.
Then he went out on opening day and saw that unfold during his outing. Arrieta threw many quality pitches over seven innings of two-hit shutout ball. But he said he may have thrown some of the best breaking pitches that he has ever thrown on a big league mound against Minnesota.
“Yeah, probably. Definitely from start to finish, I will say that,” he said. “The thing is, being able to throw those type of breaking balls throughout the entire outing. I would come out in the first and second inning (last year) and throw some good breaking balls, but after the first or second, the breaking ball kind of disappeared. Now I can consistently throw that pitch throughout the outing.
“It was quality from start to finish yesterday. I was able to throw it for strikes early in the count. When I needed to throw one at the tip of the plate, I could do that as well. Having a feel for it early in counts and also when the count was in my favor, that was a big, big thing for me yesterday.”
Three Orioles have thrown a complete-game shutout on opening day: Dave McNally in 1973, Jim Palmer in 1975 and Rick Sutcliffe in 1992.
Arrieta may have joined them, but he was taken out after allowing just two singles over the seven innings with his pitch count at 97. He said his tank was not nearly on empty and he could have thrown more had he been asked to.
“Plenty (left), but at this point in the season, I think it was good to get Lindstrom in there and let him throw,” Arrieta said. “I think it was a smart move to get some other guys in to get a feel for pitching at Camden. But I had plenty left.”
Still, on the first day of the season, Arrieta flashed a glimpse of the pitcher that some feel has the best stuff on the staff. The August surgery is, so far, yielding the desired benefits.
“Going out there in the fourth and fifth inning and feeling very confident that I would feel 100 percent, that’s something that I haven’t felt in a long time. So to be fresh in the later innings was a big boost for me,” he said.