Jake Arrieta shows why Philadelphia Phillies signed him

Arrieta's first Phillies start might be against the Mets. Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images.
Arrieta's first Phillies start might be against the Mets. Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. /

Jake Arrieta proves precisely why the Philadelphia Phillies signed him in the first place.

Free agent Jake Arrieta, signed halfway through Spring Training by the Philadelphia Phillies, showed exactly why they did that on May 23.

The Phillies were 1½ games behind the Atlanta Braves, having lost the previous night to Atlanta and having already lost three series this season to them. A Phillies win would give them, at last, a 2-1 series win in the fourth series in their own house.

Both the Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves are big surprises this year, and the Braves have seemingly had the best of all the teams in their division. Altogether, they were 20-10 against the NL East going into play Wednesday.

However, the Phillies had bought an expensive stopper in Jake Arrieta, and it was time for him to stop a team that had “owned” his squad thus far.

In each of the first two innings, Jake Arrieta gave up two hits, to Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis in the first and to Ender Inciarte and Johan Camargo in the second. In each inning, the right-hander battled back and held Atlanta scoreless, but it was unclear Arrieta would maintain his sub-three ERA this evening.

The Phillies scored in their half of the third with one of those “value at the margins” efforts touted by manager Gabe Kapler, and it may well have been that Arrieta inspired the rest of his team rather than a run or two energizing the team’s pitcher.

Arrieta struck out the side in the top of the third, starting with the super-talented rookie Ronald Acuna, then finishing off hot-hitting Freeman and Markakis with killer sliders.

The apparent result was a two-out walk by Rhys Hoskins, his avoiding a tag near second on an infield hit by Odubel Herrera, an Aaron Altherr walk, and another infield single by Carlos Santana – a swinging bunt down the third baseline.

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It wasn’t exactly an explosion, but rather intelligent combat and effort. The Phillies led 1-0, then Arrieta set down the Braves in order in the top of the fourth. What had looked iffy 35-40 minutes earlier suddenly felt like a Phillies win in the bag.

And so it was. After Cesar Hernandez’ hard single to right scored Scott Kingery in the bottom of the fourth, Arrieta induced a ground ball double play to erase the baserunner resulting from Atlanta’s fifth hit. The game was half over, the Phillies led, 2-0, and they never looked back.

With the score 3-0, Philadelphia called on their own super rookie, reliever Seranthony Dominguez, to bail out Arrieta, who exited after 109 pitches with runners on second and third in the seventh. With 12 pitches Dominguez put up four outs on the boards. Hector Neris pitched the ninth, and the Phillies took the series with a 4-0 win.

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As predicted, Jake Arrieta has not only inspired the young Phillies starters; he may also be motivating the entire squad, including the offense and relievers, but this night that began with strikeouts of Atlanta’s two, three and four hitters. Kapler had said this was a “big” game before it was played, and his veteran pitcher went out and shaved 37 points from his ERA in it.