The Philadelphia Phillies will look to avoid a three-game series sweep against the visiting Baltimore Orioles when they hand the ball to right-hander Jake Arrieta on Thursday afternoon.
The Phillies have dropped two straight one-run games — 10-9 in 10 innings on Tuesday and 5-4 on Wednesday.
Arrieta, in the final year of a three-year, $75 million contract, has been terrific in two starts this season with a 1-1 record and a 2.45 ERA. In Arrieta’s last start, he tossed six scoreless innings with six strikeouts against the Atlanta Braves for his first scoreless start since 2018.
Arrieta, who has never faced the Orioles, dealt with bone spurs in his pitching elbow last season.
This season, Arrieta appears completely healthy.
“I know he’s battled injuries the last two years and it’s difficult to pitch when you have a knee problem, an elbow problem or any problem,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s difficult to execute pitches. What I’ve seen in the first two starts has been extremely impressive and a lot of execution.”
Arrieta threw 89 pitches against the Braves and certainly looked strong enough to go further in the game. His teammates have sure noticed how effective he has been.
“His backdoor sinker, I haven’t seen 93 from him in a couple of years,” said Bryce Harper, who had two hits in Wednesday’s loss. “To be able to see him really spotting up, if he’s throwing that backdoor sinker, and he’s throwing off with that cutter, he’s very tough.”
The Phillies offense has produced 13 runs in the first two games of this series without a win. Rhys Hoskins went 0 for 4 on Wednesday and grounded into three double plays, becoming the first Philadelphia player to do so since Placido Polanco in 2010.
The scrappy Orioles, who lost 108 games last season, have won nine of their first 16 games, including the first two against the Phillies.
The Orioles will go for the series sweep when they send Thomas Eshelman to the mound. Eshelman is a former top Phillies prospect who joined the Orioles last June.
This will be Eshelman’s third appearance this season as he owns a 0-0 record with a 3.68 ERA.
And he’s gaining confidence with each outing.
“This season, we have a mentality of, ‘We know we can,'” Eshelman said. “We have a different outlook on certain situations. A lot of guys were new last year. Everyone has (comfort) with each other now.”
The Orioles smacked three home runs on Wednesday — Chance Sisco, Anthony Santander and Rio Ruiz. They also made some stellar defensive plays and did more than enough to win again.
“You’re not going to play a perfect game every night,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said. “You’re not going to be consistent with knowing a good start comes every night or having a good offense every night.”
For instance, closer Cole Sulser gave up a couple of runs on Tuesday but responded with a scoreless ninth and two strikeouts Wednesday to pick up his fourth save in six chances.
Sulser struck out J.T. Realmuto looking to end the game.
–Field Level Media