Arrieta’s return, Joseph’s bat still hot, Miley still struggling

Well on a positive note, catcher Caleb Joseph is still hitting well. He ended the first half swinging a hot bat and has continued it in the Cubs series.

joseph-swing-orange-home-far-sidebar.jpgLast night at Camden Yards, he went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and RBI single in the Orioles’ 10-3 loss to the Cubs. A diving stop by third baseman Kris Bryant in the seventh robbed Joseph of a 3-for-3 night.

Over his last nine games, Joseph is 13-for-28 (.464) with two homers and seven RBIs. He has five RBIs his past two games. Joseph is batting .349 (22-for-63) in 26 games since June 1. For the season, Joseph is batting .293 with four homers and 19 RBIs in 150 at-bats.

“Well, a lot of it has to do with confidence,” Joseph said. “When you get a little bit of confidence probably in any sport, you can go out and perform better. When you feel good and confident, your swing may not be the best. But you get results and it’s easy to kind of snowball in the right direction.”

But aside from Joseph, the Orioles didn’t do much with Jake Arrieta last night. In his first start at Camden Yards since April 21, 2013, he gave up four hits and two runs (one earned) over 6 2/3 in Chicago’s win.

“He never threw a ball straight,” Joseph said. “Everyone he throws moves. He’s a tough at-bat, an uncomfortable at-bat. Just the way he strides. For right-handers, it’s like the ball comes out behind you. I thought we had him on the ropes there early on, got his pitch count up. Then we let him off the ropes. Good pitchers, if you give them a second blow, they’ll take advantage of it. That is what he did tonight.”

Chris Davis went 0-for-2 with a walk against Arrieta. He was asked the difference in the Arrieta that was an Oriole and the pitcher that has won a Cy Young Award and World Series title with the Cubs.

“I think he’s just got a better tempo. I don’t feel like he’s going for the strikeout every time as much. I think that was something that when he was here, early in the season especially, he’d get a few outs and he’d want to get a strikeout or he’d want to strike everybody out. He’s pitching. A lot of that is maturity and it’s a credit to him growing as a player,” Davis said.

It didn’t seem possible for the Orioles starting pitching to get worse than what we saw in the first half. But in the two games of this series, Kevin Gausman and Wade Miley lasted a combined 7 2/3 innings allowing 16 hits, 15 runs and six home runs.

Miley gave up seven runs over 4 2/3 innings last night. He pitched to an ERA of 2.82 his first 11 starts and now his ERA is 10.19 his last eight starts.

Why has he gone from starts that were so good to starts that have been mostly terrible?

“Were they that good, though?” Miley said of his early-season outings. “I was walking seven, I would call that more lucky. Everything in this game is result-oriented. Obviously, you smile and you’re happy because you walk away with a zero, (but) five innings, seven walks. You take it, but at the same time, I think that might be where the problem is early on with me. I accepted that. And when those groundball double plays early in the year turned into doubles, the walks were scored. And that’s kind of where I’m at right now. I definitely feel better about my delivery, but you’ve got to keep working and fine-tune things.”

The Orioles starting rotation has now gone nine straight games without either a quality start and/or a pitcher going deeper than 5 2/3 innings. Seven times in those nine games, O’s starters have pitched five innings or less. In the last 31 games, 27 times Orioles starting pitchers have gone fewer than six innings.

The Cubs offense produced 19 runs and 26 hits in this series. They have hit five doubles, a triple and eight homers the last two nights at OPACY, going 8-for-14 with runners in scoring position. The many Cubs fans that have shown up for this series seem to be enjoying Baltimore this weekend.

The Cubs have some impressive young hitters in their lineup. But when this series began they had scored just 13 runs their previous four games and they ranked 11th in the National League in runs and 10th in OPS.

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