Arrieta first Orioles pitcher to go four innings

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Orioles right-hander Jake Arrieta tossed four scoreless innings on Monday afternoon against the Pirates, the longest outing by a Baltimore starter so far this spring. Arrieta struck out five and didn't issue a walk, allowing only a pair of two-out hits and looking in complete control against a Pittsburgh lineup with several regulars.

"We didn't really talk about it much but I assumed that I'd go four, depending upon where my pitch count was at that point in time," Arrieta said of his 60-pitch outing. "As far as what's in the tank, I feel like I could go six or seven innings right now. And that's a good feeling to have, to know when there's that much left in the tank when you haven't thrown four innings yet. So, everything is good. Mentally, right where I need to be, and I'll be ready to go next time."

Last year's Opening Day starter, Arrieta is coming off a disappointing 2012 in which he went 3-9 with a 6.20 ERA. He said earlier this spring his focus is on making better in-game adjustments.

"From pitch to pitch, that's a big thing for me and for most guys," he said. "There will be times that I get away from my delivery on certain pitches, but if I can get locked in on a 1-0 count or if I happen to locate a pitch but don't feel great about the way I executed it, I can kind of bounce back and make that adjustment. For where I'm at in my career, I'm getting to the point where I can see those adjustments so much quicker and it's a good feeling.

"I just think today's one step in the right direction. I've tightened some things up, especially the slider. The changeup's still coming along. I want to get that mixed in a lot more. And I think next time out, extended a little further, I'll be able to throw a lot more of those."

Arrieta hasn't allowed an earned run in his last seven spring innings. Overall, Arrieta has made four appearances (three starts) and given up four runs (three earned) on seven hits and four walks, with seven strikeouts over 9 2/3 innings.

"He only had four first-pitch strikes, that's something he has to get better at," manager Buck Showalter said of Monday's outing. "That's why he had some deep counts he shouldn't have. Statistically, results, you see zeros out there. But he's got to get some counts in his factor.

"It was good though, don't get me wrong. He threw the ball well. He was crisp. You can tell he feels good."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.