PITTSBURGH (AP) -No doubt Tony Armas didn't have any difficulty hearing the message given him by Pittsburgh Pirates manager Jim Tracy on Monday.
Pitch better, or lose his spot in the starting rotation.
With rookies John Van Benschoten (3-2, 1.82 ERA) and Bryan Bullington (5-1, 1.90) both owning ERAs below 2.00 at Triple-A Indianapolis, the pressure on Armas to start performing immediately is obvious. Armas is 0-3 with an 8.76 ERA in six starts, lasting more than five innings only once. He has pitched four innings or fewer three times.
``Three innings into the game and you're taking the ball away from your starting pitcher, I don't like your chances of winning that day,'' Tracy said.
Armas didn't even make it through three innings in a 9-2 loss to Atlanta on Saturday, permitting five runs, four earned, and seven hits. The Pirates' opponents have scored 43 runs in those six starts, though Armas wasn't on the mound for all of those runs.
Until Tracy said Armas would make at least one more start, there was some doubt whether he would go against Florida.
``We had a little bit of a chat, and Tony's going to go out there against the Marlins on Thursday,'' Tracy said. ``But consistency is something we're looking for and Tony is very much aware of that. We need consistency from our starting rotation.''

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