Arrieta deals in first career start facing Cubs

Veteran righty receives ovation from fans in return to Wrigley Field

May 21st, 2019

CHICAGO -- The last time Phillies starter walked off the mound at Wrigley Field, he was exiting a Game 4 win in the 2017 National League Championship Series.

Arrieta had faced 29 of baseball's 30 teams prior to Monday night. The only ballclub he hadn't faced? The same team he led to victory in that NLCS and for 4 1/2 seasons.

Despite leaving his much-anticipated homecoming without a decision in the Phillies' 10-inning, 5-4 victory over the Cubs, Arrieta reminded the packed house that the ace who took the rubber so many times here was still going strong.

"It was nice pitching here, it really was. Great atmosphere as always. Two really good teams going at it," Arrieta said. "Brings back a lot of memories about what we were able to do here as a team, from the end of '13 all the way through '17. Really, really enjoyed the opportunity. Missed both series against these guys last year, it was a lot of fun."

Few pitchers in the history of baseball have performed better at Wrigley than Arrieta, and with all that the right-hander has accomplished in Chicago, it's no surprise he pitched well here yet again.

Arrieta entered Monday with a career 2.31 ERA at Wrigley Field, the second-lowest ERA all time (minimum 50 starts) at the Friendly Confines, and he continued his run of success with six strong innings and just one run allowed.

The former Cub held his ex-team in check, and despite giving up eight hits, he escaped without allowing things to get out of hand, giving the Phillies an opportunity to win the game.

"He was huge for us tonight," said , who hit the go-ahead homer in the 10th inning. "His stuff is electric. Even when guys get out there and runners are in scoring position, with him, that's when he's at his best."

"I thought he handled the emotions really well. I thought he was in control of the game even when we were down," manager Gabe Kapler said. "He maintained his poise and got stronger as the outing went on."

The 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner returned to Chicago last year in his first season with the Phillies but did not pitch. During the third inning Monday night, he got his moment to soak up all of Chicago's adoration.

Cubs starter Yu Darvish, who essentially replaced Arrieta after signing with the team in 2018, stepped off the mound, allowing time for his predecessor to have his moment with Wrigley's sellout crowd.

"During that first at-bat when the fans all stood on their feet and gave me a pretty nice round of applause, that was something that brought back memories of getting that same sort of ovation on a nightly basis. Very appreciative of that. I can't say thank you enough to the city of Chicago. I really can't," Arrieta said. "Cubs fans all across the country and all across the world really respect and appreciate what guys are able to do for them. I'll never forget this city, the fan base, the organization and everything they did for me.

"The longer that I'm kind of away from it, the more I can appreciate it. As time goes by, you put a little more thought into it, then it really sinks in what we were able able to do here as a team and as an organization."