Arrieta's 'strange day': 12 K's over 5, defeat

Arrieta's 'strange day': 12 K's over 5, defeat

CHICAGO -- Only minutes removed from his first regular-season loss since July 25, 2015, Jake Arrieta sat down and answered questions like nothing happened.

Without context to his statements, you might not know the Cubs' 3-2 loss to the D-backs on Sunday snapped a streak of 20 consecutive Arrieta decisions without a loss, the longest in Cubs history and the third-longest in baseball since at least 1913.

It also might be hard to tell that this loss came despite Arrieta striking out 12 batters in five innings, making him only the fifth pitcher since 1900 to fan 12 or more in five innings or fewer.

"That's one of the things you deal with in this game sometimes, is things like that," Arrieta said, calm and composed as ever.

If anyone is aware of his own mortality, it is Arrieta, the man who went from a back-of-the-rotation pitcher with the Orioles to the undisputed best pitcher on the best team in baseball.

As he proved Sunday, with both his strikeouts and his composure, Arrieta dazzles even in defeat.

"It was just a strange day overall," Arrieta said.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon called Arrieta's stuff Sunday "electric." Catcher Miguel Montero said Arrieta's pitches were moving so wickedly in warmups that Arrieta, "probably didn't know where the ball was going."

But the D-backs beat Arrieta by working long at-bats. Michael Bourn started the game by seeing 10 pitches. By the conclusion of the fifth, Arrieta had thrown 108. Maddon called that "about as far as you want to take it."

Arizona got two runs in the second, when Chris Herrmann and Chris Owings reached on seeing-eye singles and Yasmany Tomas drove them in by inside-outing a 96-mph inside sinker to the right-field gap for a double.

The third run came in the fifth, on a Paul Goldschmidt single, one of nine hits and eight singles the D-backs had against Arrieta. Those nine hits came on their first 10 balls in play, the rest of the order succumbing to strikeouts. Arrieta walked only one batter.

Maddon on Arrieta, 3-2 loss

"That's the freaky part about this game," Maddon said. "It's what makes it so wonderful."

To add to the oddity, the Cubs finished their 10-game homestand 8-2, with both losses coming in Arrieta starts, the first time the Cubs have lost back-to-back Arrieta outings since May of last season.

Had Arrieta earned a win, it would have made him only the fifth pitcher in the past 75 years to win 10 games in the first 12 starts of a season.

Arrieta did his due diligence with the 12 K's and even an RBI double in the second inning, but he didn't walk away the winner. Instead, he dressed in a blue track suit reading "Snake" on the back, part of the team's latest theme road trip, and left the Cubs' clubhouse quietly, on to his next start.

"It was a good run. … We'll get something new started," he said.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.