Oh what a night!
Three walk-offs and a no-hitter in Major League Baseball tonight, yet it’s Jake Arrieta shutting down the Yankees at Yankees Stadium that impresses me most. The Baltimore right-hander has always possessed ace potential. However, control issues have prevented him from realizing that potential … until tonight.
Arrieta was spectacular in a 5-0 defeat of the Bronx Bombers. Over eight innings, he allowed just five hits while striking out nine and walking none. And, don’t look now, but at 16-9, the Baltimore Orioles have one of the best records in baseball. Now, it will be Arreita’s ability to assume that elusive ace potential that is going to be a key for the Orioles maintaining that record.
As Baltimore’s opening-day starter, Arrieta showed he has ace mettle, getting out of the gate with seven innings of two-hit shutout ball to earn his first win. But, it took him nearly a month to earn win No. 2. Granted, he has pitched in some tough-luck games, twice going 6 2/3 innings to take no-decisions.
Still, in consecutive losses preceding tonight’s gem, Arrieta’s wild side has been his undoing. Consider this: In his two losses – to the Angels and A’s respectively – he issued five walks. That’s one more than he’s issued in his other four starts combined. The moral of the story: Throw the ball over the plate, Jake!
In college, Arrieta’s control issues made for the tale of two seasons. He took the D-I scene by storm with a monster sophomore season at Texas Christian in 2006, posting a 14-4 record to lead the nation in wins, working 111 innings while averaging just three walks per nine innings. His junior year, though, he wasn’t nearly as dominant. Even though he posted a 9-3 record in 2007, he worked 98 2/3 innings, while his walks-per-nine-innings stat spiked to 4.56. The moral of the story: Throw the ball over the plate, Jake!
And, of course, a big tip of the cap to the Angels’ Jered Weaver on throwing a no-hitter tonight. The 6-18 Twins might not seem like the toughest team in the world to shut down, but on the contrary, their leadoff hitter Denard Span has been one of the hottest men on the planet, and tonight had a 12-game hitting streak snapped by Weaver’s no-no.