Hey! Did you know that the Cubs beat the Rockies 3-1 Thursday afternoon behind another fine outing from Jake Arrieta, winning a home series for the first time in almost two months and ending July on an up note?
Well, maybe you knew, but you were likely much more focused on discussing all the trades made Thursday, including the Cubs' swap of James Russell and Emilio Bonifacio to the Braves, which you can talk about at that link (and I'll have some further thoughts on the deal later this afternoon or evening).
One thing seems certain. Had Emilio Bonifacio started in center field for the Cubs Thursday, Arrieta would almost certainly have taken a perfect game into the seventh inning. Junior Lake's running, diving attempt to catch Wilin Rosario's sinking line drive with two out in the fifth failed. Lake got his glove on the ball but dropped it, and that's a hit, not an error. My feeling is that Bonifacio, a better outfielder than Lake, would have caught the ball.
It's not as if players haven't been pulled from deadline-day games upon being traded before, either. It happened earlier this afternoon in Detroit, when Austin Jackson was removed by the Tigers in the middle of an at-bat (the White Sox' Gordon Beckham was hitting) when the Tigers' huge David Price deal with the Mariners and Rays was completed.
Well, that's just a footnote to this win. Rosario was the Rockies' only baserunner through six innings, but as often happens, Arrieta's rhythm was disrupted when the Cubs put together a three-run rally in the bottom of the sixth. It started out with two infield singles by Arismendy Alcantara and Chris Coghlan. Then the Cubs scored all three runs without getting a hit from any of the remaining batters in the inning. Anthony Rizzo walked, loading the bases, and then Starlin Castro broke the 0-0 tie with his RBI walk. That was followed by a sacrifice fly to center from Justin Ruggiano (who flied to center in all three of his at-bats) and the final run scored on a ground ball to shortstop by Luis Valbuena.
Nicely done, but including a Rockies pitching change, it was time-consuming, and Arrieta came out for the seventh and immediately gave up a single and a run-scoring double, which was happening just about the time of the deadline, when people tweeting about various deals and the Cubs' nearly-consummated trade broke Twitter for a few minutes -- I couldn't get through for a short time. Arrieta wound up walking the bases loaded with two out, but stayed in to retire D.J. LeMahieu on a ground ball, finishing up a fine seven-inning, three-hit, one-run outing in which he threw an efficient 96 pitches.
Brian Schlitter threw a 1-2-3 eighth and Hector Rondon (14th save) got into a bit of trouble in the ninth with back-to-back singles leading off the inning, but he got out of it with a force play and two strikeouts, including two really nicely-placed sliders to strike out Charlie Culberson to end it.
Arrieta has now thrown 98 innings and has a 2.11 ERA. That would rank fourth in the National League if he had enough innings (currently needs 107) to qualify. That would mean he'd need at least two, and probably three, more starts to have enough innings to qualify.
The Cubs are now a game and a half ahead of the Rockies (or is that "behind"?) for the worst record in the National League. After a poor start to July, the Cubs wind up 10-16 for the month and with a 5-5 homestand. Things don't get easier to start August with a trip to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers this weekend. Kyle Hendricks will get it started Friday night at 9:10 CT against the Dodgers' Dan Haren.
Now you can return to trade talk. I'm going to collect some thoughts on the Cubs' deal and have them posted a bit later.