Jake Arrieta Avoids ‘Clunker,’ Cubs Offense Can’t Say the Same in Rare Loss

Just after death and taxes on the list of life’s assurances is the fact that Cubs Insider will get a lot of traffic from people wondering why they’re blacked out from Cubs games. That was the case for the second game of their series with the Dodgers, which was broadcast by ESPN. Having watched the whole thing via the four-letter, I have to say I kinda wish it had been blacked out after all. Then again, that might have forced me to miss the pregame analysis.

If you’ve ever been put on the spot and forced to fill a little extra time, chances are you’ve found yourself saying some things you wish you could unspeak. Your addled mind is just splicing words together and forcing them out your mouth and the small bit of your consciousness still aware of what’s going on is looking on in horror. I’d like to think that’s what happened to Karl Ravech in the moments leading up to the Cubs/Dodgers game.

The start of Tuesday’s game was pushed back by rain, which forced the Baseball Tonight crew back in the ESPN studios to stall for a bit longer than usual. It was as he was attempting to segue from Indians/Rangers highlights to talk about the respective aces for the staffs involved in the upcoming game that the venerable anchor made a questionable assessment.

“Kershaw seems to never have that [bad game like Corey Kluber just had], Ravech opined. “Seemingly everybody else…But Arrieta will have that clunker…”

No, seriously, he said that.

See, I told you. 

I can’t be too hard on Ravech, though, as I can only imagine what kind of nonsense I’d spout if placed in front of a camera and given free reign to talk about sporpsballs. Maybe he was thinking of Arrieta circa 2014 or maybe he was just looking into his crystal ball and talking about the game in general for the Cubs. But while we’re on the topic of inexplicable things involving baseball, how about the throw Miggy Montero uncorked in the 2nd inning?

Yasmani Grandal had just reached first after Montero whiffed on an effort to field the ball on a swinging bunt. I’m not sure whether Miggy was upset about the error and feeling jumpy to erase it or just thought Grandal was breaking, but he fired the ball out in the general direction of second in an attempt to catch a runner who wasn’t running. It appeared as though he realized his mistake about halfway through the throw, which would explain how he managed to airmail it 15 or so feet wide.

Dude’s just as perplexed as the rest of us were. Here’s a look at the same play from behind the plate, along with Joe Maddon’s reaction. That general feeling of exasperation would be echoed time and again over the next several innings.

If not for the fact that terrible people will rewind their DVRs just to capture plays like this on Vine and share them with all their fake friends online, Miggy’s mishap would probably have been forgotten. The runner ended up being inconsequential, as Arrieta went on to strike Carl Crawford out to end the inning without a bit of damage.

That K was one of 8 strikeouts Arrieta compiled while allowing only two hits through 7 shutout innings. Nope, no clunker this time. His offense, however, was rolling around in a hoopty all night long as the Cubs hitters struggled to get anything going against Scott Kazmir and the Dodgers pen. The same could not be said of the reverse situation.

For a few moments in the 7th, it looked for all the world as though Arrieta had lost the edge and was about to fall apart. After getting two outs to open the frame, Arrieta walked Howie Kendrick, Yasmani Grandal, and Carl Crawford with only a combined three strikes to the trio. Not the best way to earn your 21st straight decision or get your team to its 24th consecutive win in games you start. But then Arrieta sat Justin Turner down on three two-seamers and all was right with the world.

Well, until the 8th inning rolled around and the Cubs bullpen took over. Just about 27 hours removed from a perfect performance 99 years in the making, the relief corps was less than stellar in support of its ace. Clayton Richard pitched like the bizarro version of the homonymous hurler in the other dugout, giving up three straight hits and allowing two runs without recording an out. Richard’s ERA now stands at 8.00 on the season, which is less than great (though he has been bitten by the BABIP bug).

Adam Warren wasn’t a whole lot better, though he did limit the damage in getting out of the 8th. The 9th, though, that was a bit of a different story. Crawford and Kiké Hernandez (who almost broke up Arrieta’s no-no in LA last season) singled to open the inning and Warren gave way to Trevor Cahill, who promptly make Chase Utley look old by changing speeds and getting the second baseman to whiff on a changeup.

Cahill then made Corey Seager look young by tossing a pair of those same changeups to start the at-bat. Seager watched the next two changes as they missed the zone, which may have gotten the baby-faced pitcher thinking he needed to change tack. Probably not a good idea, as his next pitch, a sinker, was promptly sent screaming 400 feet into the right field bleachers at 100 mph. Woof.

The Cubs offered no resistance whatsoever in the bottom of the 9th and ended the game having provided Arrieta with approximately 8 fewer runs than he’s used to getting when he takes the bump. It had been over 10 calendar months since they’d last lost a game their ace had started and we all knew the run was bound to come to an end at some point. It was just disappointing to see such a weak sauce effort in defeat. Oh well, it still counts the same as those moral victories being lauded in St. Louis.

One more fun fact about the dearth of offense in this one: the losing team in each of the first two games of this series has been held to just a single hit and a lone walk, with no baserunners after the 3rd inning. So after the Cubs put up 8 perfect innings on Monday (Hammel had a clean 2nd), the Dodgers returned the favor with 6 of their own Tuesday (Dexter Fowler walked in the 1st and singled in the 3rd).

If there’s a silver lining to all this, it’s that Arrieta gets the chance to begin a new streak when he starts Sunday against the D-backs at Wrigley. Here’s to hoping the Cubs don’t get one-hit while swinging at everything that gets within five feet of the zone in that one.

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