Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz, center, and catcher Matt… (AP photo )
CHICAGO — The contrast couldn't have been any more glaring from the first inning Thursday night at U.S. Cellular Field. Chicago White Sox starter Edwin Jackson threw 12 of his first 13 pitches for strikes and struck out five of the first seven hitters he faced.
Orioles starter Jake Arrieta missed the strike zone with eight of his first 13 pitches, walked three batters in the first inning and needed 35 pitches to get the first three outs.
Things never got much better for Arrieta, whose night was over after four rocky innings, or for the Orioles, who dropped another series with an 8-0 loss to the White Sox in front of an announced 23,898.
"Sometimes you can actually win the game in the first inning even though he only gave up one run," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
As it turned out, the one run was all Jackson needed. He allowed just three hits over eight scoreless innings, striking out 10 batters in back-to-back outings for the first time in his career. He's 2-0 with an 0.96 ERA in four starts for the White Sox since they acquired him from the Arizona Diamondbacks before the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline and 5-1 with a 3.61 ERA lifetime against the Orioles.
The Orioles, who were shut out for the 10th time this season, are winless in four straight series and have dropped eight of their past 13 games to fall to 45-83 on the season. They'll start a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels tonight in Anaheim, Calif.
Trying to stay with striking distance of the Minnesota Twins in the American League Central, the White Sox, in taking two of three from the Orioles, broke a five-series losing streak that started when they lost three of four in Baltimore this month.
Arrieta pretty much drained all the momentum the visiting dugout had gained from fellow rookie Brian Matusz's seven-inning, one-run gem Wednesday in the first inning Thursday. He allowed only one run and escaped a bases-loaded jam, but only after missing the strike zone with 19 of his 35 pitches.
"I just had a tough time finding consistency," Arrieta said. "I was erratic pretty much all night. I struggled to find a consistent arm slot. I had trouble with location. I kind of put myself in a big hole not being able to pitch late in the game with that long first inning. I just made it really hard on myself tonight and just struggled quite a bit."
Overall, he needed 85 pitches to get just 12 outs, giving up four runs on seven hits in the process. It tied Arrieta's second-shortest start of the season, and it marked the fifth time in 15 starts that the rookie right-hander couldn't get through at least five innings. He has dropped three straight decisions and is 4-6 on the season.
His command continues to be a problem; his three walks Thursday night give him 46 in 83 innings this season compared with 39 strikeouts. He has walked at least two batters in every start.
"I just got to keep the walks down," he said. "I know that; everyone knows that. And I will."
Arrieta's problems Thursday night didn't begin and end with his control. His tempo was extremely slow, and he and Matt Wieters never appeared to get on the same page. The young catcher made frequent mound visits while Arrieta was in the game.
"It makes your tempo look slow when you can't throw the ball over the plate," Showalter said.
Arrieta didn't hold base runners, with the White Sox stealing two bases off the pitcher, both runners eventually scoring. He also committed a throwing error in the fourth inning that led to the White Sox's fourth run.
Jackson, meanwhile, never gave the Orioles much of a chance. He pitched a perfect first inning, throwing eight of his nine pitches for strikes and striking out two of the three Orioles he faced. He struck out the side in the second inning, setting the tone for the outing.
"Every time I see him, I think he's been with four or five clubs, and you just wonder why," Showalter said. "He threw the ball well at our park for seven innings, and he's been pitching well for quite a while. There's such late recognition on his slider, and it goes in so hard, 88, 89 miles an hour, and you don't pick it up until late and it's more of a downward action than it is side-to-side. It gives him two really tough bullets because his fastball is so heavy with plus velocity."
The Orioles didn't get their first hit off him until Nick Markakis' leadoff infield single in the fourth. The only other two hits off Jackson were Brian Roberts' leadoff double in the sixth and Felix Pie's one-out single in the seventh.
Jackson's 110th and final pitch of the night was a 98 mph fastball that overpowered Patterson and provided a fitting end to a stellar outing.
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