No magic, just pitching and home runs as Jake Arrieta leads Cubs over Mets, 6-1

SHARE No magic, just pitching and home runs as Jake Arrieta leads Cubs over Mets, 6-1
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Jake Arrieta dominated the Mets for eight innings Thursday to complete a three-game sweep.

NEW YORK – Two years to the day after the Cubs traded for a struggling right-hander with promising stuff but a 5.46 ERA, Jake Arrieta baffled the New York Mets for eight innings to finish off a series sweep and reclaim his status as the Cubs’ most dominant pitcher.

For the first time during the three-game series there was no talk of magicians or tricks to beat the underwhelming Mets in a 6-1 game that closed out a 3-3 road trip.

Just frontline-quality pitching and a two-homer offense. In Arrieta’s case, the kind of pitching that has marked a career rise – and Cubs’ rise – since he took over a continuous role in the rotation in May of last year.

“It’s night and day, both individually and as a team,” Arrieta (8-5) said of the changes since he and Pedro Strop were traded to Chicago from Baltimore. “As a unit we’ve grown. Our young players are taking that next step forward. We have some young players who are extremely dynamic and can do a lot of great things on the field.

“So it’s just my job to anchor things and be the guy every five days that our team knows can get us the ‘W.’ And that’s what I plan to do.”

The next time around it’ll be against the division-leading Cardinals, the team that swept the Cubs to start this trip and that makes the upcoming homestand a benchmark stretch heading into the All-Star break.

After getting swept out of St. Louis, the Cubs took Monday off, brought in a magician to lift spirits Tuesday, the held the Mets’ hapless lineup to one run in 29 innings.

“It was just something we had to make a decision on coming in here,” said Arrieta, who’s 22-12 with a 2.81 ERA in 50 starts as a Cub. “Were we up for that challenge? We came out and pitched extremely well, swung the bats just enough and played really good defense.”

The Cubs swept the seven-game season series against the Mets, only the fourth time in franchise history they’ve done that against anyone in a season series of five games or more – only the second since the 1800s (6-0 against Atlanta in 2008, 16-0 against Buffalo in 1885 and 10-0 against Cincinnati in 1876).

INTERNATIONAL INTRIGUE

Freed up to spend again on international players, the Cubs overshot their MLB assigned allotment for the second time in three years (which will restrict them severely next year) but landed another big haul of prospects on Thursday’s signing date, including:

Dominican outfielder Yonathan Sierra Estiwal ($2.5 million), Dominican shortstop Aramis Ademan ($2 million), Venezuelan shortstop Yonathan Perlaza ($1.3 million) Panamanian catcher Miguel Amaya ($1.25 million), Dominican infielder Christopher Martinez ($1 million) and Dominican right-hander Yunior Perez ($600,000).

NOTES

–Right fielder Jorge Soler (ankle) could be activated from the disabled list by Sunday, just ahead of the home series against the Cardinals, Maddon said, but the Cubs won’t rush him just because of the need in the lineup. He’s on an injury rehab assignment with AAA Iowa.

–Rookie Kris Bryant (5-for-25 since a two-homer game June 22) got his first day off since his April 17 debut, in part because a tough matchup against Jacob deGrom the day after a night game made it an easier call. Maddon, who kept rookie Addison Russell out of the lineup Wednesday, said he plans to seek regular days off for his younger players during the second half of the season as the Cubs anticipate October baseball.

–Donn Roach, who lasted just 3 1/3 innings in a loss Saturday in St. Louis after getting called up from AAA for the spot start, gets the call for another start Saturday after the Cubs weren’t forced to use him out of the pen the last few days.

–The Cubs, who are looking to acquire starting pitching before the July 31 trade deadline, haven’t determined a long-term plan for that fifth-starter slot, Maddon said.

–The Cubs announced the signing of third-round draft pick Bryan Hudson, the 6-foot-8 left-hander out of Alton High ($1.1 million bonus). They have their top 11 picks under contract.

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