ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Manager Buck Showalter wouldn't promise that Jake Arrieta makes his next start, but he seemed to be leaning in that direction while meeting with reporters following today's 8-4 loss to the Rays.
"We just got through this game here and we've got off-days," Showalter said. "We'll see what's best for Jake and the Baltimore Orioles, but that's the plan right now."
Arrieta retired the first nine batters he faced, but walks proved to be his undoing. He issued back-to-back walks to Will Rhymes and Elliot Johnson, the Rays' seventh and eighth hitters, with one out in the fourth inning. He walked leadoff hitter Carlos Pena, batting .202 before today, for the second time to load the bases, and the Rays scored two runs to take a 4-2 lead.
"Everybody playing up here is a major leaguer, but certain parts of the order you'd like to see him attack it a little more," Showalter said. "I know it's frustrating for him because you see how good he's capable of being through spurts, but starting pitching isn't... You're always going to have one inning, it seems like. (David) Price, we had our opportunities on him the first day. (Arrieta) just couldn't get through it.
"I think it was more the number of runs we scored. It's tough. There's no secret that Tampa's very, very strong and seven deep in the rotation. You've really got to minimize the mistakes. And he could have helped himself by being in the right place backing up third base instead of home plate.
"Sometimes, you can get a little careless, and next thing you know the count's away from you. It's tough.
"Jake gets it. He knows what's good enough and what's not. And he has great work habits. It's not from a lack of effort and want-to. He had some really good work on some of the things that have been challenging him before this start and it worked out real good before this start. And sometimes that's the margin of error on this level."
Arrieta was responsible for one fundamental lapse when he forgot to back up third base, but there were plenty of others, including Adam Jones' wild throw to third base and Endy Chavez's throw home that allowed a runner to move up.
"There's want-to," Showalter said. "Adam's trying to throw the guy out at third and Endy, that's more a ball that's got to be cut at third base. We've got a lot of people playing positions that they don't have a lot of time with, but it shouldn't be an excuse. I think probably most of our errors have been throwing errors and that's something that's avoidable."
Nick Johnson pinch-hit for Jones in the ninth inning, leading to speculation that the center fielder was injured. Showalter explained that Jones' left wrist is sore after being hit by a pitch on Wednesday in Toronto, and it bothered him again today after he slid. Jones was removed as a precaution, but is expected to play Tuesday in Boston.