It is rare that things work out so perfectly, but the Cubs' pair of former Orioles pitchers shut down the opposition for eight innings. Arrieta buckled under the pressure of being the guy in Baltimore for many years, and it must be a huge smile that Arrieta provided a dominant start. A Javy Baez home run and some good defense was sprinkled into a nice showing by the understaffed Cubs.
He hasn't moved into that ace category for me, but it is becoming harder and harder to ignore the production of Arrieta. As usual Arreita carried a no hitter more than a single time through the order. The numbers look real, but still would like to see it for more than two thirds of a season. The Cubs could really use another starter to push Arrieta to the second spot.
The Sound and the Fury
Maybe I should write recaps more often? It seems like every time I get to describe something special that Javier Baez has done. The home run came on a mistake pitch, but Baez punishes those like few can. His play at shortstop has been solid, and lends a little credence to the notion of an infielder surplus the Cubs supposedly have right now. Either way, having watched the replay a few hundred times I am convinced this is what the Faulkner novel was about.
Logan Watkins managed to start his fifth career Major League ball game. Watkins skill set is something I appreciate with a good batting eye, speed and positional flexibility. However it seemed like Watkins was likely a casualty heading into another offseason roster crunch. Today's game did not change his status for the future, and Watkins will head down when Castro returns. It would be nice to see Watkins get a few chances to show if he could be a useful bench player. More performances with some nice defensive plays and key hits like this can only help his chances.
A key play in the game came in the fifth inning with Chris Davis being thrown out at the plate. The always clear cut lane rule was invoked with a crew chief's challenge. The Cubs apparently have asked for clarification and so John Baker felt in good standing on the play. However, Baker admitted that everyone involved was still unclear at the exact interpretation of the rule. This needs to be clarified sooner rather than later, but until this remains as clear as the rules of Calvinball.
Three Stars of Game
Third Star-Javier Baez (1-4, 1 HR, 2K)
Baez home run was majestic and his defense was excellent. The home run wasn't the difference in the game, and so that nets him only the third star. Third star with a solid thud though.
Second Star-Luis Valbuena (2-4, 1 HR)
Valbuena's home run got the Cubs on the board and was important when the Cubs squandered a golden opportunity in the third inning. Valbuena also had one of many fine defensive plays the Cubs made on the afternoon.
First Star-Jake Arrieta (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K)
Arrieta is becoming automatic at this point, and he earned every bit of this honor on a personally meaningful game. Would like the future to hold games that are more meaningful for the Chicago Cubs, but in the dog days of summer this was a nice treat.