By Bruce Levine–
CHICAGO (CBS) — This season’s Jake Arrieta appears to be very much like the pitcher who dominated the National League in 2015.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Best Rain Friday Night
The Cubs’ ace, Arrieta won his first two starts of the season, giving up just three runs, all via the home run ball in Arizona. Then on Saturday, Wrigley Field welcomed back its favorite son, who picked up where he left off. Arrieta tossed eight scoreless innings in Chicago’s 6-2 win against Colorado, running his regular-season home scoreless innings streak to 48 2/3, dating back to last July 25.
The machine-like Arrieta allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out eight. The Cubs have won the last 16 starts he has made in the regular season.
During this incredible stretch of dominance, Arrieta has gone 14-0, giving up just nine earned runs and 61 hits in 116 1/3 innings. These numbers and what you have been watching is history in the making every time out for Arrieta.
“To simplify it, I just keep trying to repeat my pitches time and time again,” Arrieta said. “Whether you do or not, it remains the mindset. You can’t control who is behind the plate or the balls and strikes that are called. Deal with the result and get back to work.”
The Cubs’ ninth win of the season was helped by three long balls. Back-to-back home runs by Anthony Rizzo and Jorge Soler gave Arrieta a two-run cushion in the fourth inning. Dexter Fowler’s three-run blast in the seventh put the game away.READ MORE: Getting Hosed: A Look At The Universe Of Chicago Water, And Its Sometimes-Sordid History, This Earth Day
“He is our horse,” said Fowler, who has reached base in all 11 games. “We know with Jake we only have to put up a little bit of runs. Six is overkill for him.”
Cubs manager Joe Maddon talked to Arrieta this spring and asked him to understand that he will try to watch the pitch count and stressful innings. This is part of an organization plan to keep him strong for possible postseason work.
“If the game remained at 5-0, I would have let him go out in the ninth,” Maddon said of taking Arrieta out after 100 pitches. “That was my cutoff for him. Great game all the way around. It did show the power of 24 hours.”
Arrieta was 11-0 in 2015 after Cubs losses. Saturday’s win made certain the team’s losing skid stopped at one.
“I am going to go psychobabble on you,” Maddon said in describing Arrieta. “It’s one pitch at a time for him. I know he has good numbers here. When the weather conditions are what they were today, it’s always going to be a great pitching ballpark. Beyond all that, he has really elevated his game, from his early days in Baltimore until right now. It’s really fun to watch.”
In 227 career innings at Wrigley Field, Arrieta has a 1.94 ERA, the the lowest of any Cubs pitcher since 1916 when the team began playing at old Weeghman Park. Eventually that became Cubs Park in 1919 and Wrigley Field in 1927.MORE NEWS: Shuttered By Pandemic Last Summer, Guthrie's Tavern In Wrigleyville Has New Owner And Will Be Reopening
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.