Chicago Cubs world-conquering pitching machine Jake Arrieta threw seven scoreless, two-hit innings and the Cubs walked over the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-1 on Tuesday night at PNC Park.
La-de-da. It’s the same old story.
Since last season’s All-Star Break, Arrieta has been so dominant that one does not even have to watch the game to know how it turns out. Journalists can start penning their game recaps as soon as the right-hander is penciled into the ninth spot of the Cubs batting order:
Cubs ace Jake Arrieta was unhittable and made opposing batters look like they were swinging garden hoses.
Arrieta’s last five starts against the Pirates, including last October’s Wild Card Game, have resulted in just one earned run against in 38 innings of work. The Cubs won all five of those games.
ÒHe’s the complete package, man, Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said of Arrieta. He was on top of his game. Watch the catcher and watch how many times he missed the glove. I don’t think you’ll find many.
In six starts this season, Arrieta is 6-0. In fact, one would have to go all the way back to July 25, 2015, a whole 20 starts ago, to find the last time the Cubs actually lost a game that Arrieta started.
To the Pirates credit, Arrieta only struck out five batters throughout the game. Instead, the righty relied on his defense, particularly the smooth fielding of shortstop-turned-third-baseman Javier Baez, to make plays.
After the first two Pirates batters of the game drew walks, Arrieta attacked the strike zone with his sinker and induced 12 ground ball outs, two of which were turned for double plays.
ÒI wanted to get ahead of guys and put them on the defensive, Arrieta said. I was able to utilize the defense pretty well tonight and, when you have the athletes that are behind me, it’s really smart to utilize them any time you can.”
After Tuesday night’s start, Arrieta’s ERA dropped to a microscopic 0.84.
Of course, the Cubs also had to score some runs to win Tuesday night’s game. Fortunately for them, Pirates starter Jon Niese did not put up much resistance and the powerful young Cubs lineup scored plenty of them.
After a relatively painless first inning, Niese allowed two runs on two hits in the second inning, including a line drive, RBI single by Arrieta. Yea, Arrieta himself provided all of the offensive support that he would need to shut down the Pirates.
Niese threw a scoreless third, but the wheels really started to come off in the top of the fourth inning. Addison Russell walked, Tim Federowicz doubled, Russell scored on a wild pitch, Dexter Fowler walked, Jorge Soler singled in Federowicz, Kris Bryant singled in Fowler, and Anthony Rizzo doubled to drive in Soler.
All in all, Niese allowed six runs, all earned, in five messy innings of work. The lefty gave up nine hits, five walks, two wild pitches, and one hit batsman.
ÒMy job is to get hitters out and today I didn’t do a good job, Niese said.
In his last three starts, Niese has been charged with 22 earned runs in 15.1 innings pitched and has allowed 39 of 87 (45%) batters reach base.
One bright spot in the game was Sean Rodriguez, who notably started the Wild Card Game but was replaced by Pedro Alvarez before he had the opportunity to face Arrieta. Rodriguez made two run-saving plays at shortstop, went 2-for-3, and scored Pittsburgh’s only run, unearned, off of reliever Trevor Cahill.
But the story of the game is Arrieta. And the story will continue to be Arrieta until some opposing team can give us something else to talk about.
In the final game of this three-game series, the Pirates will attempt try to avoid the sweep tomorrow afternoon at 12:35 PM when they send Juan Nicaso (3-2, 3.33 ERA) to the mound to face Cubs lefty Jon Lester (2-1, 1.83 ERA).