PHILS INSIDER

Jake Arrieta not happy with latest outing — and he shouldn’t be

PHILS INSIDER
Jake Arrieta allowed four runs and walked four in 4⅓ innings in Boston.
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Jake Arrieta was not happy with his start Wednesday afternoon at Fenway Park and that made it unanimous.

No one was happy with it.

How could you be?

The veteran right-hander, healthy and raring to go after having his elbow surgically cleaned out a year ago, needs to be really good behind Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler in the Phillies' rotation if the team is going to make the postseason tournament in this 60-game sprint.

But after four starts, Arrieta has been a mixed bag — two good ones and two not-so-good ones.

For the second straight start, he blew a two-run lead and failed to get through the fifth inning in a 6-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday. 

The Red Sox had lost nine straight coming in, including Tuesday night when the Phils pounded them, 13-6. They were prime targets for a Phillies sweep. But the Phils' offense sputtered and Arrieta struggled to throw strikes. The Phillies' modest winning streak ended at four as they fell to 9-10.

Arrieta gave up five hits, four runs and four walks in 4⅓ innings.

He shouldered much of the blame afterward.

"The story of this outing is I wasn't able to get ahead in counts or spin a breaking ball for strikes," Arrieta said. "I got behind in too many counts and they made me pay.

"I don't feel like I did anything well in this start. I was able to accomplish a lot of good things in my first three starts whether the numbers show that or not. Today was a different story. I wasn't able to throw the ball the way I expect to."

 

Arrieta is 1-3 with a 4.95 ERA in four starts. He's averaged just five innings per start.

Arrieta signed a three-year, $75 million contract with the Phillies before the 2018 season. He's battled inconsistency and injury throughout the deal. In 59 starts with the club, he is 19-22 with a 4.30 ERA. He has pitched five or fewer innings in 25 of his 59 starts with the Phils.

"I can pitch at a really high level and I know that I'm capable of doing so," Arrieta said.

He needs to start doing it soon because the Phils will arrive at the one-third point of the season on Thursday. He probably has eight starts left.

"We need Jake to be Jake because we've seen what he has been able to do in some of his starts and how effective he can be," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's really important to us."

Arrieta's performance was far from the only shortcoming the Phillies showed on Wednesday. The Phils, who entered the day with the best batting average in the majors at .268, had two hits in the first inning against rookie lefty Kyle Hart. They did not get another hit until the seventh inning. The Phils had the bases loaded with no outs in the top of the first. They scored twice but it felt like they let Hart off the hook in his second big-league start.

"We weren't able to build on that first inning and that was the problem," Girardi said. "We made him work really hard in the first inning and we weren't able to do much after that. To me, that was the issue. He was effectively wild and he made some pitches when he had to. For whatever reason, we just didn't swing it as well today."

Phillies hitters were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and struck out 12 times. The Phils were bitten by home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt's spacious strike zone, but that wasn't the reason they went five innings between hits. 

Neil Walker had the Phils' third hit of the game. It came in the seventh inning and he scored to make it a one-run game with Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto due up. Boston reliever Matt Barnes struck out both to stop the bleeding. Ball game.

Harper and Realmuto have carried an immense load for this team. They will look to rebound in a doubleheader Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays in Buffalo.

Rookie Spencer Howard will pitch the first game; Vince Velasquez the second.

"We have an opportunity to win two games and that's what we're going to try to do," Rhys Hoskins said.