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A Tale of Two Outings

By on April 9

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

OK, I’ll stop now.

Still, you can’t help but be struck by the duality that was on display during the Orioles doubleheader today versus the Rangers.  In the first game, Zach Britton descended from Orioles heaven and gave Baltimore another glimpse of what figures to be a very promising career.  But before Britton’s brilliance could induce rampant daydreaming throughout a win-starved fan base, the Orioles snapped back to reality with a rough start from Jake Arrieta.

While I don’t in any way want to pile on Arrieta, as I think he still has tons of potential and will make major contributions to the team this year, you can’t help but be struck by the disparity in the final lines between the two starters.  For Zach Britton: 7.2 IP, 4 hits, and 0 ER.  For Jake Arrieta: 3.1 IP, 6 hits, and 8 ER.

The power of the Rangers offense that on one hand makes Arrieta’s struggles somewhat understandable also underscores just how dominant Britton was.  All this rookie did was pick up his second win in his second major league start, while simultaneously dealing the reigning AL champions and best team in baseball their first loss in resounding fashion.

I think we also need to be careful to note that the second game of the doubleheader is the first game this season Matt Wieters has not caught.  If Arrieta’s performance tonight can tell us anything, it might tell us that there’s a reason Buck Showalter raves about Matt’s ability to handle the pitching staff and call excellent games.  While some credit of course goes to the Rangers, Jake’s subpar performance tonight may give us some insight into Matt’s most opaque skill set.

It was also interesting to observe that once the second game got out of hand, Showalter chose to bring in the recently called up Jakubauskas, who was thought to be the starter for Sunday’s game.  Maybe I’m misreading things, but it seems to me that in so doing, Showalter was sending an implicit message to his team that he wants Guthrie on the mound tomorrow, whatever his physical limitations, because he wants to win.

After all, as Buck reminds us during every commercial break, he’s not afraid the push the envelope a little bit.

And I like it.

3 Responses to “A Tale of Two Outings”

  1. Mark
    Mark says:

    I am very convinced that Fox’s game calling played some role in Arrieta’s implosion. His stuff looked as good as it ever does, if not better, but it seems like the hitters knew when the FB was coming. And even at 96, which he hit last night, they were right on it. The Rangers also have the best offense in the AL, but I really don’t think that performance was any indication of what we’ll usually get from him.

  2. Paul O. says:

    Why don’t we take a moment and try to find out where Tillman’s velocity has gone.
    Has anyone seen it sitting in the locker room? Is it lost for good? There are very few success stories in the junk ball pitching department. Jamie Moyer pulled it off for a long career, but can Tillman do it? Arrieta should be fine in the long run, but Tillman is starting to scare me.

  3. Adam
    Adam says:

    Sadly, I agree. Tillman has really not looked good in the past two games. And, perhaps worse than that, he hasn’t even given the team innings, so we’ve had to use the bullpen far too often.

    For some unknown reason, I watched the post-game last night, and Jim Palmer was, shall we say, quite pointed in his criticism of Tillman. He made the point that while he felt badly for Tillman, he can’t see any way at all that he will improve his performance with his delivery as presently constituted. Citing his years of experience as a player and baseball analyst, he said that he felt it was more or less hopeless unless drastic changes were made. While JP can often be very direct, those comments stood out to me.

    I guess I can only say that I hope he’s somehow mistaken and Tillman will figure it out. But I don’t know how many more chances he’s going to get in the near term.

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