Jake Arrieta is the man.
The Chicago Cubs won the NL Wild Card Game against the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 on a complete game, four-hit shutout by Jake Arrieta. The probable NL Cy Young winner fanned 11 batters. It marked the first time the Cubs had won a post-season game since 2003.
Three of the four Cubs runs were driven in by Cubs’ rookie outfielder Kyle Schwarber on a single in the first and a two-run home run in the 3rd. Cubs lead off hitter Dexter Fowler hit a solo shot in the 5th. The Cubs got all their runs off Pirates’ starter Gerrit Cole.
The benches cleared after Arrieta was drilled by Pirates’ reliever Tony Watson. Arrieta had hit Francisco Cervelli with a pitch in the fifth and Josh Harrison in the sixth. But they were on breaking balls that got away. Cervelli got hit on the finger and he went down like a World Cup soccer player. Why on earth is Arrieta going to intentionally hit two guys while throwing a shutout? The Pirates were totally lame. I lost a lot of respect for them tonight.
Pirates infielder Sean Rodriguez would get ejected from the game after trying to throw a punch at Arrieta. Rodriguez had a frustrating game. He started the game at first and was taken out for pinch hitter Pedro Alvarez before he even got an at bat. No wonder he was angry. Alvarez was brought in for his offense and struck out three times against Arrieta.
Arrieta did get into two jams in the sixth and the seventh, but the Pirates hit into inning ending double plays.
Look, I understand the Pirates’ frustration. Their 98 wins would have won any other division except for the NL Central. For the second year in a row they ran into the best pitcher in baseball. Last year, the Bucs got shutout by San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. Lightning struck twice at PNC Park.
The Cubs will now face the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLDS beginning Friday. For all the years the Cubs and Cardinals have been rivals this is the first time they have faced off in the post-season. The Cardinals are heavy favorites (even with an injured Yadier Molina), but I’m sticking with the Cubs to take it in five.
I will say it again. Jake Arrieta is the man.