MIAMI — Jake Arrieta is going to need a new road-gray Phillies jersey. The one he wore Friday night is going on the wall at home.
The 33-year-old right-hander pitched a beauty in leading the Phillies to a 9-1 win over the Miami Marlins (see observations). He gave up just one run in seven innings of work for the 100th win of his career.
The milestone clearly meant something to him.
“I tried to get it last year, but came up a little short,” Arrieta said after the game. “Accomplishing something like I did tonight just makes you appreciate everything you go through and how hard it is to get to a spot like this. Just a lot of ups and downs and figuring some things out, forgetting some things, re-learning them. This game is very humbling. I'll never forget that.”
Arrieta endured a lot of ups and downs before putting it all together and winning the National League Cy Young Award with the Chicago Cubs in 2015. He signed with the Phillies last season and had a disappointing second half. He’s come into the new season determined to have a good one and so far he has. He is 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts. He has allowed just 13 hits and five earned runs in 20 innings.
Arrieta pitched shutout ball for the first six innings Friday night and scattered three hits before allowing two hits and a run in the seventh.
He kept a few souvenirs from the win.
“I got a handful of baseballs and some tickets, and I'm going to keep my jersey,” he said. “I think that'll be sufficient for tonight, and march on to 200.”
The lowly Marlins came into the game scoring 2.62 runs per game, 29th in the majors, and hitting a paltry .215. Arrieta did just what a pitcher is supposed to do against a weak-hitting team: He attacked the strike zone. Seventy-six of his 108 pitches were strikes.
Arrieta recently made a mechanical adjustment on his changeup and the pitch was outstanding. He threw 20 of them, 19 for strikes, and it produced six swinging strikes.
“It's such a good pitch for me,” he said. “An adjustment that I made in a bullpen session a few days ago is shortening my arm path. When I dig too far behind me, that creates a lateral rotation and I'm trying to keep it inside my body line, not allow it to go behind me. I was able to do that, and what that allows me to do is get my arm to the right spot and release. If I can do that, my changeup is going to be really good. Cutter was OK tonight. It's coming around. But man, when that pitch is locked in, it's going to be a lot of fun.”
After losing two straight to the Washington Nationals, the Phillies needed to have some fun. Andrew McCutchen set the tone by aggressively going from first to third in the third inning. It helped ignite a five-run rally.
“He carried energy into the clubhouse today,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “There’s something different about his vibe. I think he probably understood that he needed to shoulder some load and I think he did just that. He knew that we needed somebody to step up and bring that energy level and he did it.”
In addition to his role in the five-run third inning, McCutchen clubbed a three-run homer in the eighth.
He was all-smiles after the game.
“It’s always nice to come back to my home state,” McCutchen said. “I got a fresh haircut today by my guy Pablo and it felt really good. So I had the look-good, feel-good part down. I just needed to play good and I got that one of out of the way, too. Hit all three of ‘em so it’s been a great day.”
The Phillies went 3-6 in Miami last season and were 11-8 overall against the stripped-down Marlins. By contrast, the division champion Braves went 14-5 against the Marlins.
The Phils know they must continue to play well against the Marlins. They are off to a good start with 18 more meetings on tap between the two clubs.
“That's what we didn't do well last year,” Arrieta said of the need to clean up on the rebuilding Marlins. “I think that's why it kind of slipped away from us. We didn't take care of business against the teams we were supposed to beat. But on that same note, nobody's going to roll over for us. Those guys are major-league players, as well. And if you have a lapse in focus or concentration, you're going to get beat by anybody. We have to keep our foot on the accelerator, understand what it takes to win games against teams like this who are rebuilding, who might not have the experience level that we have, and take advantage of that.”
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