DUNEDIN, Fla. - After pitching 4 2/3 innings of shutout ball today, Jake Arrieta said he may have had his best mix of pitches this afternoon that he's ever had in a game going back in his memory bank. He also had a top-notch slider in his outing against Toronto.
"Today was the best sequence I've had from start to finish in a long time," he said. "Not just this spring, but since I can remember. The way I mixed my pitches from my slider, my curveball and mixing those in around good-located fastballs.
"The two-out walks are the one thing that stands out to me as something that can't happen. Just a lack of focus, not keeping the concentration level turned up where it should be. Got to do a better job in that situation. But overall good, they really didn't square anything up.
"Today is the best my slider has been in a long, long time. It's got really tight tilt and is upper 80s. If I can use that pitch off my fastball and mix in my good curveball and throw that for strikes you won't get squared up very much. Like today."
Arrieta is the latest Orioles hurler to step up his game as the competition for what appears to be just one rotation spot continues to heat up.
"I think that has been going along all spring," he said. "No matter the situation, I try to come in and prove myself every year. As far as the evaluation process I want to show progress anytime I go out there in a lot of areas."
Arrieta said he is feeling upbeat about how he is throwing right now after back-to-back scoreless outings.
"My confidence level is really high," he said. "With my stuff, it is hard not to have a high level of confidence. Sometimes over-thinking in certain situations happens, but you have to realize the more thoughts that get in your head, you second-guess yourself. Today was a good step in the right direction."
Arrieta said he wanted to give pitching coach Rick Adair a lot of credit for the work they've done in bullpen sessions.
"He's been patient. We've argued. We've hugged," he said. "It's just constant work at our craft. I am really thankful for him. He has made some big-time adjustments with me that are really starting to show benefits. I like where I am going."
Update: Trayvon Robinson doubled, moved to third on a Russ Canzler fly ball and scored on Buck Britton's sacrifice fly to give the O's a 3-1 lead in the top of the ninth.
Troy Patton and Daniel McCutchen combined to retire the side in order in the bottom of the inning, as the Orioles finished off the Blue Jays 3-1.