After yesterday’s 4-2 win over the Pirates, Jake Arrieta now has half as many wins with the Cubs this season as he did last year with the Phillies. The 35-year-old didn’t have his best stuff and seemed to be laboring through each of the 89 pitches he threw, often looking like he was on the verge of allowing a big inning.
The former ace threw 54 pitches in the first three innings, barely half of which were strikes. The next frame was nearly disastrous as Arrieta missed the plate on 16 of his 27 pitches, including two four-pitch walks to Pittsburgh’s Nos. 7 and 8 hitters.
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) April 9, 2021
If you aren’t at your best, it’s usually a good thing to be pitching against the Pirates. That goes double for Arrieta, who is now 15-6 lifetime against the Bucs with a nifty 2.88 career ERA, by far the best he’s pitched against any opponent. I know most Cubs fans really wanted to see Jon Lester return, but Arrieta was a nice addition and is likely more apt to help Chicago this year.
As nice it is to see the veteran righty back in Cubbie blue, base hits were a more welcome sight. The Cubs recorded 11 of them yesterday, including three home runs. Normally I’d be concerned that all of runs the North Siders scored came via the longball, but it was exhilarating just to see runners on the basepaths. Unfortunately, because baseball needs to schedule off days after home openers, the Cubs can’t carry any momentum in to today because they’re not playing.
And how about Craig Kimbrel? He’s been nails in the early going and yesterday he notched his second save of the season by getting five outs, three on strikeouts. After Dan Winkler walked the bases loaded with one out in the 8th, Kimbrel entered and ended the jam with two strikeouts before setting the Pirates down in order to close it out an inning later. I know it’s only been a week, but Kimbrel looks unhittable right now and, continuing a trend from the end of last season, he’s yet to walk a batter in four appearances.
After a disappointing series against the Brewers, Pittsburgh is certainly the cure for what’s ailing the Cubs. Sure, there is little consolation in beating up on the downtrodden, but at least it gives the guys in blue a chance to work through their offensive funk.
Cubs News & Notes
- David Ross has repeatedly said that when the Cubs hit their numbers offensively, they’re pretty tough to beat. Kris Bryant, Javier Báez and Anthony Rizzo went 6-for-11 with four runs scored and a walk in yesterday’s win. Every Cubs hitter from 1-7 in the order had at least one hit.
- Considering the opponent, the location, and the stars of yesterday’s game, it felt like 2015 all over again for the Cubs.
- Kimbrel’s save yesterday was the 350th of his career. That’s good for 12th all time, just eight shy of Troy Percival and 18 away from the top 10.
- Kimbrel is first in saves among active closers.
- The Cubs are off Friday before resuming the three-game set on Saturday at 5:35pm CT. Zach Davies (1-0, 3.18 ERA) and Mitch Keller (0-1, 9.00) are the scheduled starters.
Apropos of Nothing
Odds & Sods
The Cubs were just 3-for-33 during Wednesday’s 10-inning loss to the Brewers. Yesterday, it took them just seven ABs to tally four hits.
Today was the fourth time in the seven seasons that they've played together that Javy Baez, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo hit a home run in the same game
The last time was August 14, 2017 pic.twitter.com/fMb5zmxnd4
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) April 8, 2021
How About That!
There is a growing suspicion that the Padres aren’t being completely forthright about the torn labrum Fernando Tatís Jr. suffered last week and that it may be more serious than team officials have indicated.
You won’t see this in major league baseball very often, but a home run hit against the Blue Jays yesterday crashed into an elementary school. Toronto is playing its home games at its spring training stadium in Dunedin, FL.
Bauer is on a social media rampage (when isn’t he?) and is blaming the media for the narrative that he may be doctoring the baseball when he pitches.
A White Sox-Dodgers World Series is not out of the realm of possibility.
On April 6, Diamondbacks reliever Matt Peacock became the first pitcher since Marino Pieretti (my new favorite baseball name) of the 1945 Washington Senators to make his MLB debut in an extra-inning game, record a victory, and collect a hit. The story of how he made it to the major leagues is even better.
We’re just one week in, but ESPN has come up with some of the hottest speculation of the young season.
Here’s one hot take you won’t see very often regarding baseball’s extra-inning rule.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Lance Lynn – The White Sox righty threw baseball’s first complete game shutout of the season, blanking the Royals 6-0 with 11 punchouts.
- Mitch Garver – The unheralded Twins’ backstop was 2-for-4 with a double, home run and three RBI in Minnesota’s 10-2 win over the Mariners. Garver has quietly amassed a career 120 OPS+ in four seasons and change.
- Mike Trout – The superstar outfielder led the 5-2 Angels to a 7-5 win over the Blue Jays last night. Trout was 3-for-5 with two runs scored, including a double and his second home run of the season.
Take Me Out to the Ball Game
Roughly 15,000 fans will attend Opening Day today at Dodger stadium, which has undergone $100 million in renovations since the last time fans were allowed into the ballpark.
The Braves will host their first home game of the season today and safety measures include going cashless, mobile food ordering, increased cleaning and sanitization, socially distanced seating, mandatory masks, a no-bag policy for most guests, and grab-and-go food options.
The Rays will celebrate their AL Championship before today’s home opener at Tropicana Field.
Astros fans booed the A’s during Houston’s home opener. It’s kind of unfair to pick on a 1-7 team.
Some of baseball’s corporate-sponsored stadium names are more than just a little obtuse.
Out of Left Field
Apparently baseball is part and parcel to a global communist conspiracy.
Bryant continues to mash and his .982 OPS leads the team through seven games. With his 1st inning home run and 3rd inning double, the third baseman now has five extra-base hits on the season. He had just 10 hits for extra bases in 2020.
That one was for Kyler pic.twitter.com/xX7HC2yXRu
— Marquee Sports Network (@WatchMarquee) April 8, 2021
They Said It
- “We felt really good on the plane last night. Confidence and a little bit of momentum coming off our at-bats later in the game [Wednesday]. Quality at-bats and getting guys on. We weren’t able to finish the job yesterday, but it definitely felt good. We carried that into [Thursday], really good approaches from everybody.” – David Ross
- “Doesn’t really matter who it comes from, but you expect those to be three of the guys that contribute at a pretty high clip. Their skill levels are high, and when the situation calls for it, guys like that step up to the plate and produce. So no surprise, but happy as hell that those three guys were a big part of our success today.” – Jake Arrieta
Friday Walk Off Song
Sometimes a Fantasy by Billy Joel – I have 10 hours of fantasy baseball auctions and minor league drafts scheduled for Sunday. It is the one day of the year I equally love and hate. At least I’ll get some Nonnie’s Pizza, which is very underrated as far as Chicago-area pizza goes, and I’ll get to see those friends I usually only see once-a-year.