Arrieta makes his case for a starting job

SARASOTA, Fla. - This was a good night for right-hander Jake Arrieta. He kept his scoreless innings streak alive and made another case to be the fifth starter come opening day.

Arrieta pitched six scoreless innings tonight as the Orioles and Pirates played to a 10-inning 0-0 tie in front of 6,000 fans at Ed Smith Stadium.

Arrieta gave up six hits with two walks and nine strikeouts. Over his past three outings, he has pitched 14 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing 11 hits with five walks and 16 strikeouts. He lowered his spring ERA tonight to 1.56.

After the game, he was asked if he feels he’s done enough to make the opening day rotation.

“Yeah, I think so, but it’s not in my hands,” he said. “All I can do is go out there and show I belong on the team. After that, it’s their decision.”

Arrieta threw 65 of his 88 pitches for strikes, a much better ratio of strikes to balls than in his previous two outings. He said that was important improvement to make tonight.

“It was a lot more efficient,” he said. “One thing I needed to clean up a bit is being better at getting ahead of guys and putting them away when I’m in favorable counts. Did a better job of that today.

“(The strike-to-ball ratio is) very important because that is going to allow me to go deep in the game and that is a big part of the job description, to take pressure off the bullpen and stay out there as long as you can. We only go one out of every five days. I made it a little easier on myself tonight.”

Pittsburgh had at least one runner in scoring position in five of six innings against Arrieta, but he kept them off the board as the Pirates went 0-for-12 batting with runners in scoring position against him.

“I pretty much stuck with the sinker all game, to get ahead, to get some week contact,” he said. “Breaking ball was good. Threw a real good one to (Andrew) McCutchen that gave him some issues, which is a good sign. Breaking ball was real good and mixed in some good changeups, so pretty much everything (was working).”

Arrieta said he also made some in-game adjustments.

“A big thing for me last year was not being able to minimize damage when I got in situations,” he said. “Things started to get out of control and I was able to manage it. So that is my mindset when you have the leadoff guy on or the first two guys on in an inning. Give up one and get out of it, get back in the dugout and keep your team in it. That was my mindset when guys got on base early, less than two outs. I made good pitches to get out of the inning with no runs, so yeah, adjustment made.”

And a bit of a statement made as well. For the third game in a row, Arrieta didn’t allow a run and all that may just allow him to be in the opening day rotation.

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