Arrieta, Cubs silence Pirates 4-0 to win NL wild-card game
ABS-CBN Sports on Oct 08, 2015 03:27 PM
Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta, right, celebrates as he is doused by manager Joe Maddon, left, and teammates after pitching a complete game against the Pittsburgh Pirates to win 4-0 the National League wild card baseball game Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015 in Pittsburgh. The Cubs advance to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Chicago's Jake Arrieta pitched a shutout to steer the Cubs to their first win in a playoff game for 12 years, beating Pittsburgh 4-0 on Wednesday in the National League wild-card game.
Arrieta struck out 11 without a walk and was also at the heart of an altercation after being hit by a pitch. His efforts propelled the Cubs to an NL Division Series against St. Louis starting on Friday.
"I'm exhausted. I haven't felt this way all year," said Arrieta, who led the majors with 22 wins. "This atmosphere, the energy was unbelievable. Tried to use it to the best of my ability. They were loud, they were really loud."
Dexter Fowler homered and scored three times for the Cubs and rookie Kyle Schwarber added a towering two-run homer as Chicago raced to an early lead and let Arrieta do the rest.
"Jake told me when we talked last night, he said, 'You give me a few runs, I'm good,'" Fowler said. "And I said, 'All right, bro, we'll see what we can do.'"
The largest crowd ever at PNC Park failed to rattle Arrieta or one of baseball's youngest teams, one that looked right at home while snapping a nine-game playoff losing streak that dated to the 2003 NL Championship Series.
"You don't think that these guys are 21, 23 years old, because they don't play like it," Arrieta said. "They have elevated their play to a level that's beyond their years, and it's one of the big reasons we're here."
Pittsburgh was knocked out after an impressive 98 victories this year, second only to division rival St. Louis, whose dominance forced the Pirates into the sudden-death wild-card game.
The Pirates have failed to score in both their wild-card games over the past two years, having been beaten by ultimate World Series winner San Francisco in 2014.
"Two years in a row we've drawn a tough bull," manager Clint Hurdle said.
The bearded Arrieta, still unbeaten since July 25, stretched his remarkable second half of the regular season — in which he posted an 0.75 ERA — into the opening round of the playoffs. His complete-game shutout was the first for the Cubs in the playoffs since Claude Passeau in the 1945 World Series.
Arrieta's night was not all plain-sailing, having found himself in a bases-loaded jam in the sixth, and getting involved in an altercation in the seventh after being hit by a Tony Watson pitch.
The benches and bullpens cleared when Watson was issued a warning, leading to little more than a few heated exchanges along the first base line.
Pirates utility player Sean Rodriguez was ejected and proceeded to give an unsuspecting water cooler a series of one-two combinations, eventually sending it tumbling to the ground.
"It's two teams battling, grinding it out, supporting their own guys, and sometimes those things happen," Arrieta said. "But we moved past it, and after that point it was just baseball as usual."
Chicago took a 1-0 lead two batters into the game when Fowler led off with a single, stole second and scored on a single to left by Schwarber.
The two hooked up again in the third. Fowler singled with one out and Schwarber turned a slider from starter Gerritt Cole into a massive two-run shot that appeared destined for the downtown Pittsburgh skyline before disappearing over the stands in right field.
Arrieta retired 10 straight at one point, his only real wobble coming in the sixth as Pittsburgh loaded the bases with one out.
Starling Marte's sharp grounder, however, rolled right to Addison Russell at shortstop. A toss to second and a throw to first completed the double play and ended the inning.