The Chicago Cubs defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates today 8-2, extending their major league-best record to 27-8.
They won today because of two of their star players: defending National League Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta and slugging first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
Arrieta, in his third full season with the Cubs (Chicago acquired him mid-season in 2013 from Baltimore), became the National League’s first pitcher to win seven games as he struck out 11 Pirates, and yielded just three hits and two runs. He remains undefeated for the season, and now has a very low 1.29 ERA to go with a 0.84 WHIP.
Jake Arrieta has more no-hitters than losses in his last 26 starts. pic.twitter.com/pi6ynDn7Au— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 14, 2016
Rizzo, 26, put the Cubs ahead for good in the fourth inning when he hit a three-run homer off of Pirates starter Jeff Locke. It was his 11th of the season.
Anthony Rizzo's HR was the second-most wind-aided HR at Wrigley Field in our data set, which dates to start of 2009 pic.twitter.com/CrGjPaPqdX— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 14, 2016
Shortstop Addison Russell, 22, added a two-run homer in the sixth, and Dexter Fowler and Kris Bryant each contributed RBI singles to add their contributions to the Cubs afternoon victory. Rizzo added another RBI single as well, giving him 33 RBI for the season, and putting him in the NL lead for that category.
Related Inquisitr Stories
Cubs: Nowhere Without Arrieta and Rizzo
Today’s victory showed just how much these two players mean to the Cubs. Granted, they have lots of home-grown talent in budding stars like Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler, and newly-acquired free agents Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward add leadership.
But what makes Arrieta and Rizzo special is that they both came to Chicago in the same way: through lopsided trades.
The Cubs acquired Rizzo from San Diego after the 2011 season. Just 21 at the time, he was acquired for Andrew Cashner in what is looking like a steal — Cashner, who just went on the disabled list again for the Padres, is 26-39 over four years, and he is 8-19 with a 4.43 ERA since 2015.
Meanwhile, Rizzo has blossomed in Chicago; he now has 112 home runs since he was called up in mid-season 2012, and he hammered 30-plus home runs each of the last two seasons. Ironically, Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer was involved in Rizzo’s Major League draft when he was selected in the sixth round by the Red Sox in 2007. He then acquired Rizzo for the Padres when he was their general manager in 2010, and once again when he was hired by the Chicago Cubs.
Arrieta came to Chicago in 2013 with reliever Pedro Strop for veteran pitcher Scott Feldman and backup catcher Steve Clevenger. Now with Houston, Feldman went 5-6 for the Orioles that year. But coming to the Cubs is just what Arrieta needed: he is 43-13 with a 2.13 ERA in a Cubs uniform. Last year, Arrieta keyed the Cubs surprising 97-65 season when he went 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA with 236 strikeouts in 229 innings, surging past perennial favorite Clayton Kershaw to win his first Cy Young Award.
The Chicago Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908, but if they do it this year, it’s fairly certain that Rizzo and Arrieta will have played a key part, as they did today.
What do you think? Will the Chicago Cubs win it all this year? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.
[Photo by John Durr/Getty Images]