Unfair-ieta: Jake has mean streak at Wrigley

Cubs have to 'expect greatness' out of ace at Friendly Confines

Unfair-ieta: Jake has mean streak at Wrigley

CHICAGO -- Jake Arrieta, the best statistical pitcher in Wrigley Field history, toed the rubber before 41,702 fans Saturday and quickly removed any sense of anticipation.

In his first home start this season, Arrieta began a 6-2 Cubs victory against the Rockies by striking out the side, attacking Rockies hitters with a devastating two-seam fastball and tying them up with off-speed strikes.

Arrieta was on, there was no doubt.

"It's a confident moment," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "The other part is, what does the other team feel like?"

Arrieta went on to fire eight scoreless innings, adding to his unprecedented run of success at the Friendly Confines. He hasn't allowed a run at Wrigley in 48 2/3 innings, the longest streak in the stadium's history.

The second-longest scoreless streak in Wrigley history is by a visitor, none other than Hall of Fame Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson with 37 straight in 1965 and '66. Arrieta owns the longest home streak in the Majors since Ray Herbert pitched 54 scoreless for the White Sox between 1962 and '63.

With the 48 2/3 scoreless innings at home and counting, such dominance is becoming a formality.

"I think we're a little spoiled around here because we've come to expect greatness out of him," catcher David Ross said.

Sometimes, stats and records can seem boring or meaningless. Not with Arrieta. The numbers are eye-popping, and there is no ambiguity about their meaning. Arrieta has become as dominant as it gets:

• His streak of 23 consecutive quality starts is approaching Bob Gibson's record of 26 in 1967-68. In those starts, Arrieta is 19-1 with a 0.91 ERA.

• Since Aug. 1, Arrieta is 14-0 and has allowed seven earned runs in 110 1/3 innings.

• His career ERA at Wrigley is 2.01, the best in club history.

"There's nothing for me to say," Maddon said. "I could only mess him up."

Saturday, Arrieta struck out eight and walked one. He threw 100 pitches and batted in the bottom of the eighth, but Maddon decided not to let him finish the complete game. Maddon said his cutoff was five runs. When the Cubs got up 6-0 in the eighth, that was it.

"You have to draw that line in the sand at some point," Maddon said. "There's nothing really brilliant to it. I just chose [five]."

Ross said it's no secret Arrieta wanted to finish the game, but Maddon and Arrieta talked in Spring Training about such situations.

"Of course he could have gone out there and possibly or probably thrown a shutout today," Maddon said. "But big picture, you as a manager have to look out for the team and him and his career and his family, too."

Arrieta said he understands, adding "the most important innings are to come."

But whether it's April or October, the thrill that is Jake Arrieta continues. For now, he's riding this wave of success for all it's worth.

"This game will humble you, and it can do it in a heartbeat," Arrieta said. "I think remaining humble and working hard regardless of your success or failure is the way to approach it. … That's why I try to work the way I do between starts, to prepare so when I take the mound, that's the fun part."

Cody Stavenhage is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.