The monster inning, the one that has haunted Jake Arrieta for much of this season, lurked on Sunday afternoon. It loomed in the third inning after a leadoff double was followed by a hit batsman, and again after Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper stretched a routine single into a double in the sixth.
But Arrieta survived the trouble with fastballs and sinkers and a new calm. He didn't get the win, but his six innings of one-run ball kept the Orioles in the game long enough for Matt Wieters to deliver his game-winning home run in the bottom of the eighth inning.
In his third start since a temporary demotion to the bullpen — he never actually pitched in relief — Arrieta might have turned a corner.
"I'd say this year the mental side of the game has affected me the most in my career this far," Arrieta said. "That's something that you have to go through and battle through it and find ways to implement positives into your mental game, and that's what I've been able to do."
Arrieta's ERA remains a bulky 5.55, but with the exception of one pitch against the Mets, he has been stellar in his last three starts. He's found success by avoiding the meltdowns that have led to big innings for the opposition.
On Sunday, Arrieta responded to the threat in the third by inducing a 1-6-3 double play. The next batter, Ryan Zimmerman, lined an RBI single, but Arrieta limited the damage to one run. In the sixth, after Harper outhustled the Orioles defense for a double (and then stole third base a few batters later), Arrieta grinded out two strike outs and ended the threat with a weak pop-up.
"Keeping it simple and focusing on quality pitches and executing is what translates into success," Arrieta said. "When I get in that thought process of being too mechanical, that's when things go wrong or I'm not able to stop the bleeding."
Eveland to go on paternity leave
Left-handed reliever Dana Eveland flew to California before Sunday's game to join his wife, Ashley, who gave birth to their second child, Asher, on Saturday night.
The Orioles will wait until Tuesday to place Eveland on paternity leave. Under the new rule, clubs can fill a player's roster spot for three days after the birth of his child. Manager Buck Showalter said the organization hasn't decided yet who will temporarily replace Eveland, but it did send a scout to Bowie to watch right-handed reliever Matt Lindstrom pitch Sunday. Lindstrom, who is on a rehab assignment after he partially tore a ligament in his right middle finger, threw one scoreless inning, allowed one hit and struck out one.
"Depends on what everybody thinks, if Lindstrom's ready or not," Showalter said. We're not going to do it just because it's convenient. … That will probably be something that will be decided after he pitches [Sunday]."
Before his injury, Lindstrom pitched 14 innings in 13 appearances with the Orioles, posting a 1.29 ERA with 14 strikeouts.
Davis out of the lineup
A slumping Chris Davis was kept out of the starting lineup Sunday, but he extended his hitless streak to 29 at-bats with a pinch-hit fly out to deep left field in the seventh inning.
Davis had planned to use the day off to clear his mind.
"I want in there every day. I want 100 at bats, even if I go 0-for-100," Davis said before the game. "When you have a day off, it's good to take a break, take a mental day. I've been out here early several days working on stuff, and I think it's good to take a day off and observe the game from the bench."
Davis' last hit came June 14 against the Pirates, the day before Showalter moved him to right field for the first time in Atlanta. Davis said he's feeling more comfortable at the plate and hit the ball harder against Washington, though he has nothing to show for it. If he can't break through with the bat, he's got a backup plan.
"I'm sure it'll turn around," Davis said. "If it doesn't, then I'll just go back to the bullpen."
Rojas gets save
Davis isn't the only position player in the Orioles organization who can get it done on the mound. Triple-A Norfolk second baseman Carlos Rojas picked up the save in the Tides' 8-7 win over the Toledo Mud Hens in 10 innings on Saturday.
Rojas has only pitched once before in his professional career. That appearance came June 9, when he was credited with the loss after surrendering one run on two hits (one home run) against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Showalter said Rojas was forced to make the appearance because of Dontrelle Willis' stomach virus. Willis missed his scheduled start, and Rich Rundles, typically a reliever, got the nod in his absence.
That left Rojas as the Tides' best option in the 10th. He hit the first batter he faced in the inning, but after a sacrifice bunt, he retired the final two batters.
Around the horn
Brian Matusz and Jason Hammel are the announced probable starters for the first two games of the series against the Los Angeles Angels beginning Tuesday. … Showalter expressed concern for Nolan Reimold, who will undergo a two-hour surgery Monday morning to repair a bulging disk in his neck and to fuse his spine. "Keep him in your prayers," Showalter said. "That's what I'll be thinking about tomorrow morning. [Reimold has] got a big day ahead of him personally and career-wise." … Wei-Yin Chen, who cut his left index finger on a comebacker Saturday night, said Sunday that the finger "doesn't bother me anymore today." … Sunday was the end of interleague play. The Orioles finished 11-7 against the National League this season to improve to 126-156 all-time. Starting in 2013, the interleague format will change, with at least one interleague series being played at all times. Each team will play 20 interleague games. … Showalter said the status of outfielder Endy Chavez remains unchanged as he rehabs a hamstring strain in Sarasota, Fla.. "Real slow process with his hamstring," Showalter said. … This weekend's series drew the largest attendance of any home series so far this year. The three-day total of 133,983 fans exceeded the Philadelphia Phillies series from earlier this month by 1,646.
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