Arrieta (1-0), despite a lackluster offensive performance from his Chicago teammates, allowed three hits in seven innings of work. He was efficient, averaging just less than 15 pitches per inning, and accurate, throwing 65 of his 104 pitches for strikes.
Arrieta walked three batters, struck out seven and was replaced with the game’s final score already in place.
After the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo was hit by a pitch to start the seventh inning, he advanced to second base on a throwing error from St. Louis pitcher Lance Lynn (0-1).
Star shortstop Starlin Castro singled to center to knock in Rizzo, took second base on the throw to home plate and moved to third base after a sacrifice bunt. Cubs catcher Miguel Montero brought Castro in with a sacrifice fly to cap the scoring.
Arrieta was relieved by Phil Coke, Neil Ramirez and Pedro Strop, who combined to pitch a scoreless eighth inning. Hector Rondon earned his first save by setting down the side in the ninth.
Arrieta enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2014, going 10-5 with a 2.53 ERA in 25 starts. Previously unheralded, Arrieta posted career bests in virtually every statistical category last year, including strikeouts, innings pitched, wins and WHIP.
If Wednesday’s performance is anything to judge, Arrieta appears ready for another strong season. A few of his pitches were nearly unhittable, including the curveball below:
Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer, speaking to reporters after the game, said he hopes to see plenty more of Arrieta as the season progresses. “I hope [Arrieta] makes 32 starts,” he said. “I think if he’s healthy for us all year and pitching well, that’s a big factor for us. He’s a weapon, pitched like a No. 1 starter for us.”
Arrieta’s next scheduled start is next Monday against Cincinnati in the Cubs’ first home series of the season.
Of course, it’s difficult to draw solid conclusions so early on.
But Castro, the Cubs’ superlative 25-year-old shortstop, appears to be the only Cub making much happen at the plate. His current .286 batting average is almost double that of any other Chicago player.
Regardless of Arrieta and the pitching staff, the Cubs—who entered the year with extremely high expectations—will need to perform better offensively.
Lynn, it should be noted, actually outplayed Arrieta for most of the afternoon. Lynn finished with nine strikeouts, one walk and just two hits allowed in six innings of work.
Today, at least, Lynn justified his spot as the Cardinals' No. 2 starter (a decision that surprised many fans). But on a chilly Wednesday in Chicago, it wasn’t quite enough.
Wednesday’s game was actually the third of the teams’ three-game series, as Tuesday’s scheduled game was postponed due to weather. The Cubs travel to Colorado to take on the Rockies in a three-game series that begins on Friday afternoon. St. Louis, meanwhile, heads to Cincinnati. That series begins on Friday evening.
All stats courtesy of ESPN.com.