Jake Arrieta, Cubs get the best of Yu Darvish in battle of former acesRussell Dorseyon June 10, 2021 at 12:24 am

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Jake Arrieta allows just one run on four hits over five innings in the Cubs’ 3-1 win over the Padres

SAN DIEGO – It wasn’t long ago Yu Darvish was the ace of the Cubs’ rotation, but after being dealt in the offseason, he took on his former club for the first time since the trade.

On the mound for the Cubs was Jake Arrieta, who seemingly replaced Darvish in the rotation after signing a one-year deal in February.

As the past and present collided in a battle of former Cubs aces, both starters brought their A-game, but it was the Cubs who topped Darvish in Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over the Padres.

“Just wanted to go out there and pitch well and help our team win the series,” Arrieta said after the win. “Obviously, Darvish is really good. He’s tough to beat every time he’s out there.”

The starting rotation has been one of the Cubs’ major flaws in the first half. After trading their best starter in the winter, it’s not hard to see why many wonder where the team would be if last year’s NL Cy Young runner-up was still at the top of the team’s rotation.

But the Cubs haven’t been able to dream on what ifs as they’ve fought to get near the top of the NL Central despite some of their rotation’s deficiencies.

Wednesday’s start was an important one for Arrieta, not only because of who was on the other side, but because he had been trending in the wrong direction for well over a month.

Arrieta came into the game with an 8.28 ERA over his last five starts, but looked like the pitcher who helped carry the Cubs in April.

Unlike his previous starts that were filled with traffic on the bases, Arrieta was able to get into a rhythm and got stronger as the game went along.

“Runs were going to be at a premium today,” Arrieta said. “Limiting base runners, I think I had one walk today. You have to limit the free bases, make good pitches and try to keep guys off the basepaths.”

Arrieta’s best moment came in what would be his final inning of the game and after former Cub Victor Caratini led off the fifth inning with a single, Arrieta struck out the side. He tossed five innings of one-run ball with six strikeouts and one walk.

“Had a good feel for pretty much everything other than the curveball for most of the game,” he said. “Really needed all of it to pitch well against that offense.”

“I thought Jake was really good today,” Ross said. “I thought he attacked the strike zone. It looked like the ball had real bite to it. … Big performance. … I thought he really had a game that was under control there and gave us a nice start to the game so we could wrap it up with the off day and go to that bullpen a little bit earlier than we probably needed to.”

Not only did Arrieta’s performance allow the Cubs to come back with two runs late in the game to take the series from the Padres.

The Cubs finished their West Coast trip strong with back-to-back wins entering their weekend series against the Cardinals and finished their season series against San Diego with an impressive 5-1 record.

“Just winning the series on the road against these guys after we swept them at home, that was really big,” Arrieta said. “That says a lot about our team. Having had a lot of guys banged up and guys coming and going and being able to pick up for the guys that are out of the lineup for an extended period of time. We’ve had a lot of guys do some really, really great things for us and this series was no different.”

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