So far, 28-year-old right-hander Shawn Armstrong is turning out to be a nice addition for the Orioles, one which came via a waiver claim. He retired all four Yankees he faced last night with two strikeouts on 16 pitches.
In seven games with the Orioles since they claimed him April 28 from Seattle, Armstrong is 0-0 with a 1.08 ERA and .111 batting average against. Over 8 1/3 innings he has allowed three hits and one run with three walks and 10 strikeouts.
“I think the key has been just trying to attack hitters with every single pitch,” he said this afternoon. “Not trying to be nitpicky and focus on the corners as much as just going right after guys and trusting our catchers. Trusting the scouting reports that we go over every single day. Just trying to get ahead from pitch one. That is something that stands out about the game today. Guys that fall behind quick, you see the batting average difference. So you need to get ahead and attack from pitch one.”
That included some elevated fastballs last night when the pitch averaged 93 mph.
“I’ve done that throughout my career,” he said of the high fastballs. “Obviously I’m doing it a little more this year. With the evolution of the game the bat paths have changed. They are crushing the low balls. So you have to set up pitches in that scenario with how aggressive lineups are these days. I think every pitcher has a different way of getting their timing off.”
Armstrong has a career 3.34 ERA and 1.186 WHIP in 64 games since 2015 with Cleveland, Seattle and Baltimore. He had a strong 2018 in the Mariners organization - pitching to an ERA of 1.77 in Triple-A where he went 15-for-17 in save chances and 1.23 in 14 2/3 innings with the big club. An oblique injury from March was in part why he pitched poorly earlier this year with Seattle, allowing six runs in 3 2/3 innings.
But he’s healthy now and happy to be an Oriole, noting the team welcomed him with open arms. He thinks that quick comfort level translated to help him have good outings on the mound.
“For sure. Anytime you have veterans that make the clubhouse environment very loose and free spirited, stuff like that makes it easier. I give credit to the guys that have been here this year and last year. There have been more downs than ups for an organization that is trying to work toward another winning environment. And no matter how many losses there are, if we keep that same mentality in here, things are going to turn around. Everybody really busts it in here every single day and I can’t give enough credit to how hard these guys work. Many nights we have been just one swing of the bat away.”
Speaking of swinging the bat, the Orioles have to find to keep Gleyber Torres from doing that. Last night was his third multi-homer game against the Orioles this year. He is 17-for-35 this season with eight homers and 10 RBIs against Baltimore pitching. In four games at Camden Yards, Torres is 9-for-15 with five homers and seven RBIs.
“He’s hot right now but the biggest thing we have to do as a staff is we have to keep the ball out of the middle of the plate, first and foremost. He is very, very aggressive at the plate, a majority of their lineup is very aggressive. We have to find different ways to beat him. Even if it’s not striking him out, just to get the ball on the ground. He is a smaller guy in the box that has a lot of pop. Smaller guys have a smaller zone making for smaller room for error. But all the pitches he has hit out of the park are in one spot at the plate. We have to do a better job with that,” said Armstrong.