BALTIMORE — Right-hander Jake Arrieta stood stone-faced at his locker Sunday and placed the Baltimore Orioles’ 7-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers — and a missed chance at the club’s first series sweep of the young season — squarely on his own shoulders.
“I really didn’t feel like the Dodgers beat us today. I beat us. I put us in a tough situation,” said Arrieta, who lasted just four-plus innings, giving up two hits, five walks and five earned runs. “Not giving up many hits at all, just making their job a lot easier by putting them on base for free. It’s unacceptable. It’s not something that I’ve ever expected of myself. And it’s just bad. It’s bad.”
Arrieta, who has a 6.63 ERA in four starts this season after a 6.20 ERA in 24 outings in 2012, has said these words before.
He’s often self-aware; his harshest critic. He’s also hardworking, fiercely competitive and, perhaps, the most talented pitcher on the Orioles’ staff.
That’s why what he does on a routine basis — look unhittable in one moment and unwatchable in the next — is both mystifying and frustrating for all involved.
“That’s the thing. It’s there. It’s just a matter of getting consistent, and that’s what everybody’s striving for in baseball,” said catcher Matt Wieters. “We’re going to keep working until he figures it out.”
Arrieta pitched in five innings Sunday. In three of them, he was perfect, including retiring six straight to start the game on just 23 pitches. In the third inning, he threw 37 pitches, loaded the bases twice and gave up one earned run before escaping by fanning slugger Matt Kemp — one of Arrieta’s six strikeouts.
In the fifth inning, Arrieta loaded the bases with no outs on two walks and a hit batter before giving up a two-run single to Mark Ellis, the final batter he faced. Rookie T.J. McFarland allowed both inherited runners to score, saddling Arrieta (1-1) with his first loss of the year.
“We hope he eventually will [figure things out],” Orioles Manager Buck Showalter said of Arrieta. “He has at times . . . just hasn’t found that consistency.”
In 19 innings this year, Arrieta has struck out 20 and allowed just 15 hits. But he’s walked 16 batters, oftentimes when he seems to be rolling along.
“It’s being so close and tasting it and knowing that it’s there. That’s where the frustration comes in,” Arrieta said.