Cubs

Jake Arrieta refuses to cave in, sets tone for Cubs

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Jake Arrieta refuses to cave in, sets tone for Cubs

CINCINNATI — Two years ago, Jake Arrieta may not have made it out of the fifth inning of Sunday's Cubs-Reds game.

But Arrieta has come a long way in the last couple seasons, maturing so much as a pitcher that he has become a frontline arm for the Cubs with a bulldog mentality each time out.

He showed that again Sunday, working around several jams and limiting the damage to just two runs in a 5-2 Cubs victory.

Arrieta looked like he was in cruise control early, setting down the first 11 in a row before the wheels started to come off. Reds third baseman Todd Frazier looped a home run down the left field line and Arrieta gave up back-to-back hits immediately after.

[MORE: Cubs see things starting to come together after sweep of Reds]

The 29-year-old righty escaped that jam, only to find himself in a bases loaded, no-out situation to start the fifth. But once again, he limited the damage, giving up just one run on a Billy Hamilton groundout.

"I sped up a little bit, got out of my rhythm," Arrieta said. "A little uncharacteristic there. But as things got a little more tense there, my emphasis was on not making a mistake. Damage control and making pitches to avoid the big inning.

"When things like that happen, a walk here or there to load the bases really wasn't my concern. My concern was limiting hard-hit balls."

That sounds like a guy who has developed a true understanding of pitching. It's another sign that Arrieta has figured it all out since Baltimore, where he failed to live up to high expectations as a top pitching prospect with the Orioles.

Arrieta is now 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA and 0.94 WHIP on the season. Since joining the Cubs' rotation in late 2013, he is 17-8 with a 2.72 ERA in 38 starts.

Given the way Sunday's outing started, Arrieta admitted he wasn't happy with the result overall, as he hoped to be able to pitch into the eighth inning. 

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But he'll take the win as the Cubs cruised to a 4-2 road trip.

"Jake had great stuff," manager Joe Maddon said. "After the home run, it just seemed like he was off command-wise a little bit. But his stuff was still good.

"I really appreciate fighting through some tough moments. That's what you talk about when you say a guy doesn't cave in. And that matters, because you're not going to have your best everything every night.

"You've got to be able to win with less than your best, and he did. And that's really a tribute to him and his work and his mental focus, etc."

Reds pitcher Amir Garrett apparently held a grudge against Javy Baez for a year

Reds pitcher Amir Garrett apparently held a grudge against Javy Baez for a year

Baseball players don't forget grudges. Javy Baez and Reds pitcher Amir Garrett gave an example of that on Saturday.

Garrett struck out Baez in the seventh inning of the first game of the Cubs-Reds doubleheader. Garrett showed some excitement with the strikeout and then said something to Baez. They both started jawing at each other and suddenly the benches cleared.

At first glance, it looked like Garrett was a bit too excited to get a strikeout with no one on base. Turns out Baez had his own bit of swag for Garrett last year (Friday was the one-year anniversary) in the form of a grand slam at Wrigley Field.

This time Garrett got Baez and wanted to even things up a bit.

Things didn't get too feisty despite the benches clearing, but Anthony Rizzo did rush to Baez's side at some speed. This could be a matchup to keep an eye out for in the future.

Cubs Talk Podcast: The greatest Cubs moments at Great American Ballpark

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: The greatest Cubs moments at Great American Ballpark

Siera Santos, Kelly Crull, and David DeJesus go into the audio archives to break down the biggest games for the Cubs in Cincinnati.

David DeJesus gives us his top 3 ballgames with such gems as The Schwarber Game, The Kris Bryant Game, Starlin Castro’s debut, and Jake Arrieta’s second no hitter.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here: