Arrieta made it a point to tell his teammates after Tuesday night's desperately needed 3-1 victory over the Red Sox at Fenway Park that this is what the postseason feels like. The crowd, the buzz, the stakes, the team on the other side of the field. His words resonated in a clubhouse filled with young players still trying to establish themselves, much less make their first postseason appearance.
"Intense," Rhys Hoskins said. "Obviously, that's the best team in baseball. We went toe to toe with them both games and came out on top tonight, and I think getting some experience with that intensity in a baseball game, in this kind of stadium, with these kind of fans, that kind of atmosphere, is good for us."
Arrieta led the way with an inspired performance. He allowed six hits, one run and struck out seven in seven innings in one of his best starts of the season. The victory snapped the Phillies' four-game losing streak and guaranteed they will be in first place on Aug. 1.
It is the 11th time in franchise history the Phillies have been in first place on Aug. 1. They made the postseason eight of the previous 10 times.
"What a gutsy performance by Jake," Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. "I mean, huge amounts of heart. Jake was obviously leading that charge to the point where, in the sixth inning, we were considering bullpen usage for the rest of the game, and Jake almost demanded the ball. He was adamant that he'd take down that [seventh] inning. Then he was out there, and he was lightning in that inning. Really special."
"I told him, 'I've got everything,'" Arrieta said. "Changeup was good, curveball was good. I felt like going back out was the right decision."
Arrieta went 4-0 with a 2.80 ERA in six starts in July, rebounding from a forgettable June and perhaps catapulting him into August and September, when the Phillies will be leaning on the former National League Cy Young Award winner.
They will need him.
They will need everybody, including the players who have not arrived. The Phillies on Tuesday acquired All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos from the Rays and left-hander Aaron Loup from the Blue Jays.
"We made some good moves, but that also tells us as a team that the front office is confident in the players that we have here to get the job done," Arrieta said. "It makes a statement. It's something that I think the players are happy about."
"It's pretty cool of the front office to give us that vote of confidence," Hoskins said. "We're in first place. I think we're only going to get better. I think that all of the guys that are in here, if we continue to develop and get better like we hope to and expect to, you sprinkle in some of the guys like Ramos that has experience, we're going to be good. We're going to be exciting. The last couple months are going to be fun."
They showed Tuesday they can make it fun, putting a rough weekend in Cincinnati behind them.
"I mean, that was it," Kapler said. "That was Fenway Park. Biggest stage. Brightest lights. And one of our horses stepping up in a big way for our club."
SOUND SMART Alfaro hits the Monster:Jorge Alfaro ripped a two-out double off the Green Monster in the second inning to score Maikel Franco to make it 1-0 lead. Alfaro figures to lose some playing time once Ramos is activated from the 10-day disabled list anywhere from mid-to-late August, but he took advantage of his opportunity Tuesday.
Franco scores again: Franco walked twice and scored twice. His second walk and run came in the fourth inning when Scott Kingery hit a sacrifice fly to center field. Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. made a strong throw the plate, but Franco scored standing to make it 2-0.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS The Phillies threw out Andrew Benintendi at the plate on a double steal with two outs in the bottom of the first inning. J.D. Martinez tried to steal second with Benintendi on third, but Cesar Hernandez cut off the throw and threw a strike to home plate. Alfaro tagged out Benintendi to end Boston's threat.
"When we run a redirect play, that's exactly how we draw it up," Kapler said. "Part of the reason we run it is because we have so much trust in Cesar to execute it. He identified the runner was leaving from third base. He made a quick exchange. He made a strong throw even though it was imperfect, and we got a good tag."
HE SAID IT "What I said in conjunction with a punch in the face is we know how to take a punch and get back up and keep fighting. We've shown that all year long. Every time we go down on the mat for just a little bit, we pop right back up. We come out swinging. We were able to overcome. We are a bunch of fighters. There's a lot of grit and determination and heart in that room." -- Kapler, who said Monday's 13-inning loss was a punch in the face
UP NEXT After an off-day on Wednesday, the Phillies return to action Thursday night at Citizens Bank Park, where they open a four-game series against the Marlins. Phillies right-hander Nick Pivetta (6-9, 4.85 ERA) faces Marlins right-hander Trevor Richards (3-5, 4.06) in the series opener starting at 7:05 p.m. ET. Pivetta is 1-6 with a 6.84 ERA in 10 starts since June 1.