Arrieta works 6 shutout vs. Brewers for win No. 22
By Carrie Muskat and Cash Kruth
MILWAUKEE -- Jake Arrieta tuned up for the National League Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser, winning his Major League-leading 22nd game, and Anthony Rizzo drove in three runs, including one on his 31st home run, to power the Cubs to a 6-1 victory Friday night over the Brewers. Arrieta finished the regular season with a 0.75 ERA since the All-Star break, the lowest ERA in the second half in Major League history.
"If that did not clinch his [Cy Young] Award, I don't know what would," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "That had to be the clincher. Another quality start, a dominating performance. For me, that should put the icing on the cake right there."
The Cubs will face the Pirates in Wednesday's Wild Card Game, but the site has yet to be determined. Pittsburgh, which defeated Cincinnati in 12 innings Friday night, holds a two-game lead in the Wild Card standings with two games remaining. If the two teams finish with identical records, the Cubs hold the tiebreaker because they won the season series, 11-8, and would host the playoff game at Wrigley Field.
This was Arrieta's 20th consecutive quality start, and he's 16-1 with a 0.86 ERA (14 earned runs over 147 innings ) in that stretch, striking out 147 and walking 27. His only loss in that span was July 25 when the Phillies' Cole Hamels no-hit the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
"He's unbelievable," Rizzo said of Arrieta. "You get guys on base all the time and they say they've never seen anything like it. It's a credit to him. He works hard, and deserves everything he gets and is about to get. Now we've got the biggest games of our lives coming up. We'll be ready."
Before the game, Maddon said he was going to take a "pragmatic, prudent" approach regarding Arrieta's pitch count in his final regular-season start. Arrieta is the first Cubs pitcher to reach 22 wins since Fergie Jenkins went 24-13 in 1971, and he's the first pitcher to win at least 22 games in a season since Justin Verlander won 24 in 2011, and the first in the NL since Brandon Webb won 22 in '08.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Rizzo rakes: Rizzo inched closer to his first 100-RBI season. With one out in the fourth, he launched his 31st home run into the right-field bleachers. In the fifth, Rizzo smacked a two-run single off David Goforth to open a 4-0 lead. Rizzo is tied with Kris Bryant for the team lead with 99 RBIs, and the two have a little friendly competition going on.
"I told him when I got 99, I said, 'Hey, history has shown throughout the year, whenever one of us catches the other, we usually get more RBIs,'" Rizzo said. "Hopefully there's five or six more there to come."
Outfield miscue costly: With two on and one out in the fifth, Bryant skied a high fly ball to right-center field. Brewers right fielder Domingo Santana headed to the ball, as did speedy center fielder Logan Schafer. Although the ball was closer to right field than center, Schafer -- the outfield general as a center fielder -- called for the ball and stood under it in front of Santana, who also tried to catch the ball, causing it to drop. The error, charged to Santana, proved costly, as it knocked starter Ariel Pena, who was impressive early, out of the game and led to a two-run single by Rizzo. More >
Davis delivers: Davis accounted for the Brewers' lone run in the seventh, launching a 1-1 sinker from Cahill over the center-field wall. It was Davis' team-high 27th homer and his 21st since the All-Star break -- the second-most in the NL during that span. Davis is hitting .333 with eight homers and 14 RBIs in his last 18 games.
Hot streaks: Cubs infielder Starlin Castro hit two doubles, and has hit safely in four of his last five games. He's nine hits away from 1,000 in his career. Since the All-Star break, Castro is batting .305. He isn't alone. Rookie Addison Russell also had two doubles, and has hit safely in his last three games.
"He's on a really good roll right now, no question. He's someone you just feel like you don't get pitches to hit in certain at-bats. When you're limited with baserunners, it's tough to get offense going against him." -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell, on Arrieta
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cubs starting pitchers have a 0.23 ERA in the last six games, giving up one earned run over 39 1/3 innings.
WHAT'S NEXT Cubs:Kyle Hendricks makes his final regular-season start on Saturday when the Cubs play the Brewers. Hendricks is coming off a solid outing against the Royals in which he threw six scoreless innings, striking out nine to tie a career high. He has a 1.96 ERA in three starts against the Brewers this season. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. CT.
Brewers: Rookie righty Tyler Wagner, the club's No. 15 prospect per MLB.com, makes his third Major League start on Saturday at Miller Park against the Cubs. He didn't make it past the fourth inning in each of his previous two outings, allowing five runs in each.