Cubs righty effective over 7 innings of tough-luck loss
By Scott Chasen
CHICAGO -- Jake Arrieta's prep work for his Wednesday start involved a couple of extra chats.
On Tuesday, Arrieta met with newly acquired Cubs catcher Alex Avila for 20 to 30 minutes to talk through the D-backs' hitters and the approach they wanted to take. They talked one more time on Wednesday ahead of the Cubs' 3-0 loss, and the pitcher gave Avila an early vote of confidence.
"Whatever you throw down, regardless of whether I think maybe something else is a better pitch, I'll trust you," Arrieta told the catcher, making his first start with the Cubs. "I don't know if I shook him off more than two or three times all night."
That trust showed on the field. Arrieta cruised through 5 1/3 innings, needing just 60 pitches to work through the order twice. To that point, the only damage against the right-hander had been a Chris Iannetta single and walk, both left stranded.
"That might have been his best all year. That was really that sharp," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "I thought he looked outstanding."
A big part of that outing, Arrieta said, was the guy behind the dish.
While both Arrieta and Avila noted their comfort with one another after the game, Arrieta was especially complimentary of Avila's knowledge of the hitters around the Majors.
Avila, though, didn't take too much of the credit for himself. After making his Wrigley Field debut, the catcher credited his pitcher for getting through the opposing lineup effectively and efficiently.
"I tried to do my homework as far as their team and Jake and watching his starts and what he likes to do," Avila said. "It's really all about him. If he doesn't command pitches, you don't get the results. He did a great job."
Unfortunately for the Cubs, it was not a perfect ending.
With one out in the sixth, Arrieta allowed a single to David Peralta and was dinged for two runs (one earned) after A.J. Pollock reached on an error and Jake Lamb hit a soft double down the right-field line -- Statcast™ gave the play a 26 percent hit probability -- to plate both runners.
Arrieta settled back in, inducing an inning-ending double play and working through the seventh without allowing another run.
"It's good to play behind him. It's unfortunate we didn't get him any runs today for how well he pitched," first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. "But that's the game of baseball. You have your ups and downs. We scored 16 last night and get shut out today."
Scott Chasen is a reporter with MLB.com based in Chicago. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.