SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants not only get the benefit of their home fans as they continue this best-of-five National League Division Series on Monday, but they have the luxury of sending out one of the most dominant performers in recent postseason history for Game 3. And yet, the Cubs
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants not only get the benefit of their home fans as they continue this best-of-five National League Division Series on Monday, but they have the luxury of sending out one of the most dominant performers in recent postseason history for Game 3. And yet, the Cubs are confident with their counter.
That, of course, is Jake Arrieta, who will oppose Giants ace Madison Bumgarner as the series shifts to San Francisco (8:30 p.m. CT/6:30 p.m. PT on FS1, FOX Deportes). Arrieta will take the mound with an opportunity to pitch the Cubs back into the NL Championship Series. To do so, he and his teammates will have to find a way to snap the Giants' streak of nine straight postseason wins in elimination games.
"I've had these moments in the past, and it's just something you really want to relish and try to embrace and enjoy as much as you can," said Arrieta, who went 2-1 with a 3.66 ERA in three postseason starts last year. "You play the long season -- regular season -- to get to this moment, to have these types of opportunities, and you prepare and you move forward accordingly and try to take care of business. That's what we're trying to do."
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Though Arrieta's focus will be on keeping the San Francisco offense quiet, there's no avoiding the hype surrounding the starting matchup. On Sunday, Arrieta admired how Bumgarner "really seems to shine brightest in the postseason, when the games matter most." Bumgarner later described Arrieta as "one of the best."
The two have opposed each other three times already this season, first in a Cactus League game and most recently during San Francisco's September visit to Wrigley Field. On that day, Arrieta allowed three runs (two earned) over six innings in a 3-2 loss.
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That performance, however, was an outlier. In his other three outings against San Francisco since the start of his NL Cy Young Award-winning 2015 season, Arrieta has gone undefeated with one run allowed over 20 2/3 innings. His ERA at AT&T Park over that stretch registers at 0.69.
"I enjoy AT&T Park very much; the fans here are tremendous," said Arrieta, who went 4-0 with a 0.30 ERA in four starts in California this season. "There's going to be a lot of adrenaline flowing tomorrow, and the crowd's going to provide a lot of that. You just look forward to moments like that."
And while Arrieta may not enter the postseason as dominant as he did last year's, he finds himself fresher. With his final three starts coming after the Cubs had already clinched the NL Central title, Arrieta cruised into October by using his late-September outings more as tune-ups than tests. He'll be making this start on 11 days' rest.
The results of Arrieta's last performance -- seven runs allowed on 10 hits over five innings -- were uncharacteristic. But the work, he and manager Joe Maddon said afterward, was nevertheless fruitful. Arrieta finished the season with a 3.10 ERA.
"This season, everybody's been over-scrutinizing him based on what he had done last year," Maddon said. "He's had a great season. It's not maybe as great as last year was, but it's hard to replicate that. So I don't think Jake is cowered by any situation. We have a lot of confidence in him. I know he's ready for the challenge tomorrow night."
Jenifer Langosch has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2007.