Jake Arrieta (18-7, 2.58 ERA) was in top form today as he led the Chicago Cubs (98-55) to a 5-0 victory (Box Score) behind a four-run first inning. For his part, Arrieta looked nearly flawless. His location was outstanding as he mixed his pitches baffling batters throughout the day, with his four-seam fastball setting up the sinker, he stuck out 10 batters over his 7 innings pitched.
The offense exploded for four runs in the first inning and the Cubs were really in cruise control after that, behind the dominant performance by Arrieta, who struck out the side in the top of the first inning, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
The Cubs scored three runs in the first inning before the Cardinals could get one out. Dexter Fowler led off the inning with a walk, Kris Bryant singled and then Fowler scored on a Mike Leake wild pitch. Anthony Rizzo then slapped a double to left field, where Cardinals outfielder Kolten Wong got eaten alive by the turf, slipped and fell face first which allowed Rizzo to get to second. It was officially scored a double but about as unconventional as it gets.
Another wild pitch by Leake allowed Anthony to take third and he scored when Ben Zobrist singled to right field. The Cardinals managed to finally get two outs but the third out proved elusive as Chris Coghlan ripped a run-scoring double down the right field line to usher in Jason Heyward.
The Cubs would add another run for good measure in the bottom of the fourth inning. Ben Zobrist drove in Jake Arrieta, who singled to lead off the inning, on a fielder’s choice.
Stats that matter
- Jake being Jake, making a strong case to be the number one come playoff time – 7.0IP, 0R, 5H, 1BB, 10Ks, 99 pitches, 1-for-3, 1R
- Pedro Strop, Travis Wood and C.J. Edwards were all very good in relief – 3.0IP, 0R, 0H, 1BB, 3Ks
- Kris Bryant just keeps doing his thing – 2-for-4, 1R, 1BB
- Anthony Rizzo is keeping pace with KB – 3-for-5, 1R, 1RBI, 2B
- Ben Zobrist with a great game – 1-for-3, 2RBI, 1BB, SB
- Jason Heyward got involved on the offensive side with a walk, stolen base and run scored.
- Chris Coghlan is playing well – 1-for-2, 1RBI, 2BB, 2B
The Cubs are playing some solid baseball, top to bottom. This reminds me a lot of how they ended the year in 2015 when they won 8 games in a row to close things out. Of course, if they do that this year they’ll end up with well over 100 wins.
As we mentioned yesterday, 105 wins is looking very realistic. Of course last year the Cubs were fighting for a Wild Card spot and this year they’re cruising into the top spot in the National League. It sure has been a fun ride so far, hasn’t it?
The Cubs take on the Cardinals on Saturday at 12:05 PM CT, an earlier start than usual. Jon Lester (18-4, 2.36 ERA) will be pitching for the Cubs.