Baltimore pulls out a squeaker over Tampa Bay
BALTIMORE – It’s been more than 10 months for Jake Arrieta. Finally, he had a win even if it wasn’t very pretty.
Arrieta started out by allowing a first-pitch home run, then polished off the second batter in a not-so-tidy 13 pitches. In the end, he was basically finished after five innings, but the Orioles held on for a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays before 14,670 at Oriole Park on Tuesday night.
Arrieta (1-0) was taken out after walking the first batter in the sixth inning on his 112th pitch.
Manager Buck Showalter managed to put a positive spin on Arrieta’s outing, though his massive pitch counts continue to frustrate him.
“He was the winning pitcher tonight in a Major League game against an American League East team? I’m proud of him for battling through,” Showalter said.
“We’ve won all three games he’s started in. But there’s better there.”
For now, Arrieta remains in the rotation, and at times he was rolling when he struck out four of five hitters. He also walked five batters.
“He’s capable of pitching seven, eight, nine innings and we hope it happens,” Showalter said.
Arrieta is given to overanalyzing his performance.
“The win is the biggest part of the night. I would have liked to be out there a little bit longer but the pitch count got up. They stuck with me in the sixth, let me go back out, and I just wasn't able to command the ball then. I might have run out of gas a little bit but I had a lot left in the tank, still. So I appreciate them letting me go back out there and see what I could do. I just wasn't able to get out of that inning,” Arrieta said.
“There are still things I can improve upon to go deeper in the game; force contact a little bit earlier. But if I'm in a situation where strikeouts are available, I'm going to go for it. Keep guys from putting good swings on the ball, that's something I'm going to have to do in certain situations.”
After beginning the season with three one-run losses, the Orioles have now won two straight.
After taking a 5-1 lead in the sixth, Pedro Strop allowed three runs on two home runs in the eighth.
“We got to a point where we had a lead and just had to come after some guys and challenge them. With Petey’s fastball, you’ll win more times than not. Tonight, they were able to get him a couple of times,” Matt Wieters said.
Tampa Bay’s Desmond Jennings led off with a home run on Arrieta’s first pitch. Thirteen pitches later, Arrieta struck out his second batter, Kelly Johnson.
It didn’t take the Orioles (7-6) long to draw even. Nate McLouth walked to lead off. He stole second, and scored on Manny Machado’s double off Roberto Hernandez.
In the second, Wieters threw out the Rays’ Matt Joyce, trying to steal second. It was the sixth consecutive runner Orioles catchers have thrown out attempting a steal. Not since Opening Day when Jennings swiped second has a runner been successful.
In the bottom of the second, Wieters led off with his second home run of the season, his first since Opening Day for a 2-1 lead, and the Orioles added a run in the third on a double by McLouth, who took third on a passed by Tampa Bay (4-9) catcher Jose Lobaton. He scored on Nick Markakis’ RBI single.
Troy Patton came on to retire the side in the sixth and after retiring the first batter in the seventh, Pedro Strop relieved in and finished out the seventh.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Orioles added two runs off Hernandez (0-3). Markakis walked, Adam Jones doubled, and Chris Davis was intentionally to load the bases with none out. After Wieters struck out, J.J. Hardy grounded to Longoria at third, who threw wide of home for an error to allow Markakis to score. Jones scored on Ryan Flaherty’s infield out.
In the eighth, Johnson led off with a home run against Strop, his second, and after Ben Zobrist walked, Longoria hit his second to cut the Orioles’ lead to 5-4.
Brian Matusz retired the only batter he faced. Darren O’Day finished out the eighth and Jim Johnson pitched a perfect ninth for his sixth save.
“I feel kind of sad a little bit because I put my team in a situation where it was a close situation. But I was happy at the same time to see my teammates getting the job done. We've been pretty good since last year in one-run games and I know we could get the job done. That made me feel a lot better," Strop said.