ALL THE TIES. EVERY SINGLE TIE. FEED THEM TO ME.
The Chicago Cubs today notched their fifth tie of the Cactus League season thanks to a 9th inning rally by the Diamondbacks after the Cubs had rallied for runs in the 8th and 9th.
Starting pitcher Jake Arrieta contributed in a huge way to this one … at the dish. Yup. Arrieta hit a solo home run in the top of the third inning earlier today and it was a big one (462 feet). In fact, it broke the previous record for longest home run by a pitcher in the Statcast Era (440 feet) – a record he set himself!
Later in the game, Arrieta added another RBI groundout with the bases loaded, which gave the Cubs the lead. Michael mentioned it in Arrieta’s home run piece earlier, but he does add legitimate value with his bat (and other non-pitching skills). Last season alone it was worth up to almost an entire extra win. That’s huge.
- But despite his athletic abilities, it’s the pitching we care most about. And from the mound, Arrieta didn’t do poorly today, though he did give up a lot of hits, and also did get off to a rocky start. In the top of the first inning, alone, Arrieta allowed three hits, including a two-run home run. Five more hits, including two doubles, would follow, but for the most part, he kept the runs from scoring (three earned). And most importantly, Arrieta allowed just one walk (against four strikeouts) in his five innings of work (plus one batter in the sixth). All in all – and I didn’t have eyes on him, as the game was not televised, so this is stat-line scouting – it seems as though Arrieta is ready for the season.
- Which, coincidentally, is not too far away:
Are you gonna make it? pic.twitter.com/c44HcqtzXz
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) March 23, 2017
- Lefty Brian Duensing returned to action, following Arrieta in this one. He’d been out of commission for two weeks while dealing with lower back tightness. Given that Jack Leathersich has also been out, and David Rollins was cut today, Duensing may have a very good shot at winning a spot in the bullpen on Opening Day as the situational lefty (Mike Montgomery is more of a full-inning/long relief type). That is, if the Cubs carry a situational lefty.
- To that point, the other possibility is Rule 5 lefty Caleb Smith, who struck out the only batter he faced (a very “situational” type situation).
- Offensively, other than Arrieta, the Cubs got three hits from Willson Contreras and a dinger from Tommy La Stella.
- It’s not exactly Arizona, but I thought this shot from @WrigleyAerials (a wonderful account to follow) was too good not to share:
Dugouts uncovered. It was not a dream. pic.twitter.com/kbfiB1PBG3
— Wrigley Aerials (@WrigleyAerials) March 23, 2017
- And while we’re in the Chicagoland area:
— Bill Savage (@RogersParkMan) March 23, 2017
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.