Jake Arrieta stands and delivers in Phillies' most important win of season

Jake Arrieta stands and delivers in Phillies' most important win of season


BOSTON — This is why the Phillies gave Jake Arrieta 75 million big ones. For nights like this. For performances like this. For picking up a team that had fallen down and getting it back on its feet again.

Arrieta came up huge Tuesday night. He pitched seven innings of one-run, no-walk, seven-strikeout ball against the biggest, baddest offense in the majors in leading the limping Phillies to a tense 3-1 win over the Boston Red Sox at raucous Fenway Park (see first take).

There were other contributors. Maikel Franco, often maligned for poor on-base skills, drew two big walks that turned into runs. Jorge Alfaro, Scott Kingery and Carlos Santana drove in big runs and Rhys Hoskins had a key double to set up a run in the ninth. Nick Williams and Roman Quinn made big catches in the outfield. And Tommy Hunter and Seranthony Dominguez combined for six tough outs out of the bullpen as the loud Fenway crowd stood on its feet.

But it was the work of Arrieta that really lit up the night. He was the definition of a stopper, putting an end to a four-game losing streak, preventing it from becoming a season-high five-game losing streak, and keeping the Phillies in first place in the NL East even after a difficult road trip that produced just two wins in six games.

OK, we’ll say it:

It was the Phillies’ most important win of the season.

Manager Gabe Kapler acknowledged as much by the way he spoke after the game. Brother Gabe was full of passion, faith and appreciation for the job his disciples had done in one of baseball’s grand cathedrals.

“What a gutsy performance by Jake,” Kapler said. “I mean, huge amounts of heart. I think the story of tonight's game was heart. Everybody looking for the opportunity to put the rest of the team on their shoulders and carry them. Jake was obviously leading that charge to the point where, in the sixth inning, we were considering bullpen usage for the rest of the game and Jake almost demanded the ball. He was adamant that he'd take down that seventh inning. Then he went out there and he was lightning in that inning. Really special. Efficient. Attacking the zone. Swings and misses. So if there was ever any doubt about that, the ability to throw the ball by people and strike dudes out, obviously that's still there for Jake Arrieta.

“I mean, that was Fenway Park. Biggest stage. Brightest lights. And one of our horses stepping up in a big way for our club.”

The galling part of the Phillies’ quick, two-day trip to Boston was they should have swept the two-game set against baseball's best team. Aaron Nola was brilliant with eight innings of one-run ball on Monday night. The Phillies lost that game, 2-1, in 13 innings. A base-running mistake and a fielding mistake by Odubel Herrera led to the loss, which Kapler called a “punch in the face.”

“What I said in conjunction with ‘a punch in the face’ is we know how to take a punch and get back up and keep fighting,” Kapler said. “We've shown that all year long. Every time we go down on the mat for just a little bit, we pop right back up. We come out swinging. We were able to overcome. We are a bunch of fighters. There's a lot of grit and determination and heart in that room. Those are the things we can be very proud of in this moment.”

Arrieta, now 9-6 with a 3.32 ERA in 21 starts, is one of only a handful of Phillies with pennant-race experience. After the game, he tried to downplay any sense of urgency he felt going in, but clearly it was there.

“I was thinking about trying to split a two-game series on the road against the best team in baseball for many reasons, but to show that we can win big games on the road against teams like that,” he said. “Even though we would like to have done a little better on the road trip, getting out of here with the way we played last night and coming up short and then winning the game tonight and doing a lot things well is very important for our team.

“Every win is vitally important for us. The teams around us aren’t going to slow down. We know what Atlanta is doing and Washington has the ability to play well for a long stretch and put themselves back in contention, so we have to continue to increase our skill sets consistently. We have to pitch a little better, field a little better and the same thing at the plate. At this point in the year, teams are playing really well, especially teams that have a shot to get into the playoffs, so we have to do everything consistently from this point forward if we want to get to where we’re confident we can go.”

Several hours before the game, the Phillies added slugging catcher Wilson Ramos and reliever Aaron Loup in trades.

“They can definitely benefit our club,” Arrieta said. “We made some good moves. That tells us the front office is confident in the players that we have here to get the job done. It makes a statement. It's something that I think the players are happy about.”

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J.T. Realmuto feeling 'blessed' as he heads into arbitration showdown with Phillies

J.T. Realmuto feeling 'blessed' as he heads into arbitration showdown with Phillies

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto will participate in Tuesday’s workout before taking a flight to Phoenix for Wednesday’s salary arbitration hearing.

Realmuto is dreading the long flight, not the hearing.

“One way or another, I’m going to be playing baseball in Philly this year,” he said. “I’m going to either be making $10 million or $12 million, and I’ll be happy either way. I’m blessed to get to do what I do for a living for a lot of money so either way, I’m happy.”

Realmuto is actually seeking $12.4 million. The Phillies have filed at $10 million. The arbitration panel will select one figure or the other. There is no middle ground (more details here).

Realmuto, who made $5.9 million last year, is in his third and final year of arbitration and is scheduled to become a free agent after this season. To date, the highest-paid catcher in that class was Matt Wieters, who avoided a hearing with Baltimore and made $8.275 million 2015. Catcher Mike Napoli actually made more — $9.4 million — in a negotiated settlement with the Texas Rangers in 2012, but he was in his fourth year of arbitration because of his Super-Two status with the Anaheim Angels in 2009.

So, no matter how the arbitration panel rules, Realmuto’s 2020 salary will be a record for an arbitration-eligible catcher.

Once Realmuto’s 2020 salary is established, the Phillies will turn their attention to negotiating a long-term contract extension with him. Realmuto is expected to seek in the neighborhood of $23 million per season, matching Joe Mauer’s record salary for a catcher, over a five- or six-year deal. 

The Phillies would like to get a deal done by opening day to avoid any potential distractions. Would Realmuto negotiate during the season?

“We haven’t gotten there yet,” Realmuto said. “I’ll talk with my agent and we’ll communicate with Matt (Klentak, the general manager) and let him know.”

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Joe Girardi asks Phillies players to give him their hearts — and their trots

Joe Girardi asks Phillies players to give him their hearts — and their trots

CLEARWATER, Fla. — Joe Girardi officially opened his first Phillies spring training camp by telling the players to give him their hearts.

“He knows if he can get our heart, he’ll get our best on the field,” J.T. Realmuto said.

Both Girardi and managing partner John Middleton stressed that the goal was to play deep into October. The Phillies have not been to the postseason since 2011.

Middleton reminded the players of the passion that Philadelphia fans have and urged them to give back to the fans by playing the game hard and respecting it.

Girardi roamed the fields of Carpenter Complex during the workout. He lightened the mood at the end of a base-running drill by asking a group of players, including Jean Segura, to show off their home run trots.

“Just to have some fun,” Girardi said after the workout.

The home-run trot "drill" came with some instructions.

“Make sure you run hard before you know it's out,” he told the players. “The big thing is if you run hard to first, there is a great chance it'll be out by then. Then you don't get caught on first base or caught on second base when you should be a base ahead. Just run hard.”

Phillies pitchers will begin throwing live batting practice during Tuesday’s workout.

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