He has thrown two no-hitters in his career. He felt he had similar stuff Thursday night in a 7-0 victory over the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. Arrieta allowed one hit and two walks in seven scoreless innings. He struck out 10. It is the first time he pitched seven or more scoreless innings with one or fewer hits and 10 or more strikeouts since he threw a no-hitter against the Dodgers on Aug. 30, 2015.
"Yeah, it was good," Arrieta said. "Other than being able to locate the changeup a little better, it was about as good as I've been."
Arrieta's 10 strikeouts are his most in a game since he struck out 10 Brewers on April 9, 2017. He got 14 swings and misses against the Pirates, his most since he got 15 against the Dodgers on May 26, 2017. Arrieta had a combined nine swings and misses in his first two starts this year.
"That's the best movement and action I've seen on his fastball since 2015," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who has seen Arrieta pitch 18 times over the past three-plus seasons, including the postseason. "He was crisp tonight, all his pitches. He pitched extremely, extremely well."
Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award with the Cubs in 2015. If Arrieta comes remotely close to replicating Thursday's performance every five days for the Phillies, the summer could be a lot of fun.
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler believes that.
"Obviously you're going to get excited about Jake going out there every fifth day, if he's sort of the mid-range version of himself, which is still a very good starting pitcher," Kapler said. "And if he is a little bit better than his average self, he's unhittable. So therefore, I think there's a ton of reason to be excited about Jake going forward."
Especially if Arrieta has his sinker working. It had heavy sink throughout the night.
"It's really difficult to square that pitch up, regardless of if it's middle-of-the-plate or inside to a guy or away from him," Arrieta said. "If you have tailing action or sink on your fastball, it's hard to square it up. I've seen that for years. I see how four-seam fastballs tend to get whacked pretty good if they're not in the right spot, so that's why I switched to predominantly throwing sinkers several years ago, and I've had tremendous success with doing that. Nights like tonight where I do have pretty much command at will, it just makes my job that much easier."
Arrieta's sinker also had extra life. It averaged 92.7 mph after averaging 91.8 mph in his first two starts. It topped out at 94.8 mph.
"Little extra pop on the fastball," Arrieta said. "Combining Spring Training and my three starts so far, that's probably only five or six starts. I was a little behind, but now I'm caught up."
Arrieta allowed his only hit in the second inning when Francisco Cervelli hit a ball into the hole between third and shortstop. J.P. Crawford made a play on the ball, but his momentum prevented him from making a throw.
Arrieta recorded four fly outs in the outfield. Otherwise, not a single ball left the infield.
"That was fun," Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro said. "Just put a finger down and he hit the glove. That was easy."
And there could be more to come.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED The Phillies had runners on first and second with no outs in the second inning, when Crawford attempted a sacrifice bunt up the third-base line. The sacrifice turned into a hit to load the bases. After Alfaro and Arrieta struck out swinging, Cesar Hernandez laced a line drive to center field for a two-out single. Nick Williams and Scott Kingery scored easily, but Crawford got a tremendous jump and also scored to hand the Phillies a 4-0 lead.
"When I reached first base [Jose] Flores said, 'Don't be too surprised that Crawford scored. I gave him a heads up and said if he hits a single you better score. I want you running,'" Hernandez said. "That hit was special to me because it was my 500th hit."
SOUND SMART Arrieta is the first Phillies pitcher to record 10 or more strikeouts and one or fewer hits in a game since Cole Hamels no-hit the Cubs at Wrigley Field on July 25, 2015. Arrieta pitched for the Cubs that afternoon. It was his final loss of the season.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS Rhys Hoskins' solo home run to left field in the second inning left his bat at 109.9 mph, making it the second hardest-hit home run of his career, according to Statcast™.
Hoskins hit a home run at 110.2 mph on Aug. 14 in San Diego. He remembers that one -- it was the first homer of his career.
HE SAID IT "The one thing that might go unnoticed is Dusty [Wathan's] call at third base. He's been tremendous over there with his reads all season long, in particular today. I think it takes big stones to know what part of the lineup is coming up, the middle part of the lineup, and to score J.P. there is huge for us. It was a huge boost to the dugout. Everybody was fired up about that. Big ups to Dusty and to J.P. for getting a good jump on that ball and taking good, sharp turns around the bases and giving Dusty a chance to score him. I think that was a huge emotional lift for the club today." -- Kapler, on Crawford scoring on Hernandez's single in the second
UP NEXT Phillies right-hander Ben Lively (0-1, 5.87 ERA) faces Pirates right-hander Ivan Nova (2-1, 4.88 ERA) on Friday night in the second game of a four-game series at Citizens Bank Park. Lively has struggled in his last two starts, allowing 16 hits, eight runs, two walks and two home runs in 9 2/3 innings. He has struck out 12. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.