By Dan Bernstein —
CBSChicago.com senior columnist
(CBS) It wasn’t what it once was, but it was good enough for what it had to be.
Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta is no longer 96 mph and an unhittable slider that dives away from bewildered checked swings, but his 93 and long-limbed cross-firing proved still enough for 111 pitches and 20 outs in a game Wednesday night that kept the 2017 Cubs extant for a day. They, and he, are still here.
“I still intend to have another start in this ball park,” he said after the 3-2 win at Wrigley Field that Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Thursday night. “If that’w where it ends, I did my best and I left it all out there.”
And another team will pay handsomely for whatever remains. Arriet, 31,a is noble for planning on an unlikely chance to start again in a Cubs uniform, striking an optimistic tone in the face of daunting improbability. We all know that was likely it, as did all in attendance who acknowledged it as he walked off the mound.
Arrieta will always be one of the faces of the resurgence and glory, the resurrected prospect who for a time was the best in the world at what he did. And he has raged against the dying of the light to the tune of a 1.27 ERA in elimination games here with Chicago, never having lost one.
Jake Arrieta’s Cubs numbers over five seasons include a 2.73 ERA, a 1.034 WHIP, 793 strikeouts and five shutouts that included two memorable no-hitters. He pitched 52 2/3 postseason innings, with an ERA of 3.08 and a WHIP of 1.082.
And he did so while remaining available and thoughtful, never too big or important to have a moment for media or fans. He seemed to enjoy all of it as much as you did.
There’s no doubting his appreciation of his time as a Chicago Cub in many of their finest hours, and he deserves such in return as it comes to what looks like an end.