Cubs

Cubs: Jake Arrieta redefining dominance as he makes his case for NL Cy Young

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Cubs: Jake Arrieta redefining dominance as he makes his case for NL Cy Young

Before the weekend, the Arizona Diamondbacks pointed to Jake Arrieta as a perfect role model for what the organization hopes their young pitchers can turn into.

The 29-year-old Cubs ace proved why he deserved that level of praise again Saturday afternoon as he dominated the D-Backs in a 2-0 Cubs win in front of 40,690 fans at Wrigley Field.

Arrieta followed up his first career no-hitter Sunday with another gem Saturday, allowing just four hits in eight shutout innings.

He has not given up an earned run in his last four starts, a span of 29 innings.

"It's as good as you're gonna get on the major-league level," manager Joe Maddon said.

[SHOP: Buy a Jake Arrieta jersey]

Arrieta picked up right where he left off in August, when he was 6-0 with an 0.43 ERA in the month.

It was the 15th consecutive quality start and he has a 0.99 ERA over his last 14 starts (a span of 109 innings).

Arrieta has now won seven consecutive starts and improved to 18-6 on the season, lowering his overall ERA to 2.03 and WHIP to 0.92 in the process.

Has he done enough to put himself firmly in the conversation for National League Cy Young alongside Dodgers stars Zack Greinke (15-3, 1.59 ERA, 0.846 WHIP) and Clayton Kershaw (12-6, 2.18 ERA, 0.897 WHIP)?

"It's hard for me to fathom that somebody's better than Jake Arrieta," catcher David Ross said. "I know numbers are numbers and there's some guys in L.A. that are doing a really good job, but I'll take [Arrieta] on the mound any day of the week."

Maddon is not one to talk about individual awards or look too far ahead to the end of the season, but even he admitted Arrieta has to be in the conversation for the league's top pitcher.

"Absolutely," Maddon said before comparing Arrieta's run to what he's seen in the past with David Price and James Shields in Tampa Bay. "I've seen guys really good. [This stretch] is right up there with the best that I've seen and I've had. He's been awesome, absolutely awesome.

"When the conversation [for NL CY] occurs, his name would be - I would guess - Top 3 with everybody. It's just a matter of how you want to apply your vote. And there's still some time left."

Arrieta said he got over the no-hitter pretty quickly, to the point where he was sick of talking about it two days later and was instead focused on watching video of the Diamondbacks. He wants to sit back and reflect on the accomplishment after the season ends.

Will he also be reflecting on a Cy Young Award in his trophy case?

Nobody knows yet, but he acknowledges that it's nice to even be in the conversation.

"It means you're doing something right, so yeah, it's a good thing," Arrieta said. But at the end of the day, all that's great, but if we do things in the playoffs, that's an even greater sense of accomplishment as a team.

"That's really what we're all focused on. The other things just kinda happen and take care of themselves with everything we have going on here. Winning ballgames is really our most important task at hand."

Cubs recall David Bote from Triple-A with Anthony Rizzo's back ailing

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USA TODAY

Cubs recall David Bote from Triple-A with Anthony Rizzo's back ailing

David Bote's minor league stint didn't last long.

After demoting the 26-year-old to Triple-A Iowa on Monday, the Cubs recalled Bote on Sunday. In a corresponding move, the team placed Derek Holland (left wrist contusion) on the 10-day injured list.

Bote's return comes on the heels of Anthony Rizzo exiting Saturday's game due to mid-back tightness. Rizzo has dealt with back issues at various points in his career, missing four games in May this season with a similar ailment. 

The Cubs activated Steve Cishek off the injured list Tuesday, with the reliever filling Bote's vacancy on the 25-man roster. Thus, the Cubs had been playing with 14 pitchers and 11 position players for much of this week. Had they not recalled Bote, they Cubs would've had to play Sunday's game with just Victor Caratini and Tony Kemp available off the bench.

A similar situation occurred Saturday, as Rizzo exited the game in the bottom of the fifth inning. To save the Cubs from running out of position players, reliever Kyle Ryan took his at-bat in the sixth inning. Although he drew a walk, Ryan was thrown out attempting to take third base on a pitch that got away from Nationals catcher Yan Gomes.

Holland was hit by a comebacker in Tuesday's game against the Giants. Him landing on the injured list leaves Ryan as the lone lefty in the Cubs bullpen. The former holds a 5.74 ERA this season in 43 overall games between the Cubs and Giants, though that number is a more respectable 4.66 in 12 appearances with the Cubs.

Bote is hitting .257/.352/.429 with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs in 106 games (268 at-bats) this season. 

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Anthony Rizzo leaves Cubs game with injury

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USA TODAY

Anthony Rizzo leaves Cubs game with injury

In the midst of a second straight tough game against the Nationals, the Cubs were dealt another dose of bad news when Anthony Rizzo was forced out of the contest due to injury.

The first baseman was pinch-hit for in the bottom of the fifth inning with what the team called mid-back tightness. The Cubs did not have an update on his status immediately following the 7-2 loss.

Rizzo had walked the previous inning and was stranded on third base when a full-count pitch to Ian Happ was called a strike:

Rizzo made an error in each of the first two innings of the game, throwing a ball into left field when second base wasn't being covered and then dropping a throw from Javy Baez to begin the second inning.

Rizzo has dealt with back issues throughout his career, including a stint where he missed four games in mid-May.

Jonathan Lucroy hit for Rizzo in the fifth inning and doubled home the Cubs' second run of the game. He stayed in to catch while Victor Cartaini moved from behind the plate to first base.

The Cubs were already operating with a short bench since they currently have a nine-man bullpen and they had already utilized Happ off the bench earlier in the game (he was later ejected after the controversial call).