Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Familiar Chord Arrieta's Pitching Performance Overpowering Just like Bumgarner's Was a Year Ago

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Familiar Chord Arrieta's Pitching Performance Overpowering Just like Bumgarner's Was a Year Ago

Article excerpt

The National League Central Division is wearing out the carpet in the PNC Park visitors' clubhouse. The St. Louis Cardinals clinched the division and celebrated there last week. The Chicago Cubs won the wild-card game Wednesday night, advancing to the National League Division Series against those Cardinals, and celebrated there. Both celebrations came at the expense of the Pirates.

They finished behind the Cardinals despite winning 98 games, an outcome that relegated them to a third consecutive wild-card game. They lost to Jake Arrieta and the Cubs, 4-0, Wednesday night, and faced a pitcher who threw a shutout against them in the elimination game for the second year in a row.

"It's not hard that we won 98 games, no," Andrew McCutchen said. "It's just the fact that there was a team that was better than us that was able to win 100, and we knew that we had the wild-card game in front of us. We just didn't do the job tonight, we didn't get it done."

The game left indelible images: Kyle Schwarber's home run sailing over the seats in right field; Anthony Rizzo pumping his fist after a double play squashed the Pirates' best scoring chance; Sean Rodriguez throwing combos at a Gatorade cooler like it was a heavy bag after the benches cleared.

The benches cleared? This was not a series, nothing to carry over to the following night. Why?

"The playoffs," Arrieta said.

What Arrieta did is not a surprise. He spent the second half of the season pitching at a level baseball hasn't seen since Bob Gibson in 1968 or Dwight Gooden in 1985 or Pedro Martinez in the late 1990s. Five times Arrieta faced the Pirates this season. Twice he held them scoreless. He allowed three earned runs in 36 total innings. Wednesday, like Madison Bumgarner in 2014, Arrieta pitched a shutout, allowing four hits and no walks and striking out 11.

"He was as advertised," Neil Walker said. "He attacked us from pitch one. We weren't able to put much pressure on him or get his pitch count up."

Gerrit Cole is one of a handful of pitchers in the National League capable of going zero for zero with Arrieta. He struck out 32 Cubs in 251/3 innings in his four starts against them this season and allowed two or fewer runs in three of them. …

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