Last season, Orioles reliever Troy Patton did a tremendous job serving as a left-handed bridge between the team’s starters and late-inning relievers.
But this season Patton has struggled with his control, and that fact was glaring Thursday, when he retired the first two batters he faced on four pitches, then went on to issue back-to-back walks, including one to No. 9 hitter Munenori Kawasaki.
That forced right-hander Pedro Strop, who yielded a grand slam two batters later, into the game earlier than the Orioles wanted.
“That’s got to be a 1-2-3 inning when I get two guys out like that 10 out of 10 times,” Patton said. “I was really, really frustrated with myself about that. … The fact that I didn’t even challenge them is pretty frustrating for myself.”
Patton has allowed runs in four of his past five outings, and he’s allowed multiple runs three times in that span. Last season, Patton had an incredible 4.08 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but this year has more walks (12) than strikeouts (10). And after holding lefties to a .212 batting average in 2012, they’re hitting .303 (10-for-33) against him this season.
“I haven’t been locating my fastball,” Patton said. “I did well against lefties last year because I could throw the fastball away from them for a strike. If I don’t locate my fastball down and away to a lefty, then he knows that slider is all he needs to look for. That’s the reason my walks are up this year. They’re taking pitches, because they know I’m not locating fastballs, so all my other stuff inherently gets worse.”
Said manager Buck Showalter: “I’m not hanging it on him. Command-wise, he’s spoiled us, and it’s been a little challenge for him. We’re so quick to point out that something’s mechanical. … That’s the case many times, but a lot of times it’s as much mental as anything else. The trouble with guys in the bullpen is you don’t go down there and have work days. He’s got to be ready to pitch tonight.”
Around the horn
Adam Jones was back in center field Friday after starting the previous three games as the designated hitter. In between innings on Thursday, Jones was jogging between the dugout and the right-field foul pole to test his sore right groin on the unforgiving Rogers Centre AstroTurf. “He asked me if that was illegal,” Showalter said. “He just wanted to stay loose.” … The Orioles planned to recall right-hander Steve Johnson as an extra relief arm if the club’s bullpen became extended Friday against the Blue Jays. Johnson, a St. Paul’s grad, was scratched from his scheduled start Friday at Triple-A Norfolk. … Right-hander Jake Arrieta, who was optioned Thursday to make room for Kevin Gausman, will pitch for Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday, as will left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada, who has been scheduled to make his third minor league rehab start that day. … Catcher Taylor Teagarden (left thumb) caught batting practice and took swings against coaches in Sarasota, Fla., and is expected to get into an extended spring training game Monday. ... Minor league right-hander Dan Klein retired on Friday. Klein, the Orioles' third-round pick out of UCLA in 2010, underwent three shoulder surgeries and hadn't pitched in a game since 2011. ... Right-hander Branden Kline, the Orioles' 2012 second-round pick out of Virginia and a Frederick native, had successful surgery on his left ankle Friday. He had two screws inserted and will miss six to eight weeks.