Jake Arrieta on the playoffs: ‘Now the fun starts’

SHARE Jake Arrieta on the playoffs: ‘Now the fun starts’

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks reacts after walking Cincinnati Reds’ Eugenio Suarez and forcing in a run in the first inning of a baseball game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, in Cincinnati. The Cubs won 7-4. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) ORG XMIT: OHJMOTK

CINCINNATI — The Mets? The Giants?

“Who gives a s— who we play?” said Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, who had his playoff edge working as soon as the Cubs finished off the regular season with a two-out rally in the ninth for a comeback 7-4 victory over the Reds on Sunday afternoon.

“Now the fun starts. That’s what we’ve been waiting three weeks for.”

It was a different kind of edge apparent in the Cubs’ clubhouse over the past week with players, including Arrieta, chapped at manager Joe Maddon’s “spring-training” approach over a lengthy stretch of post-clinch games.

“A lot of guys were kind of short because we’re just ready for Oct. 7. That’s really it,” Arrieta said. “We could have lost nine in a row [to finish], but when we go toe-to-toe with any lineup, with any rotation, we’re more than equipped and more than capable of taking care of business and moving forward.”

The Cubs finished with 103 victories, giving them 200 over Maddon’s first two seasons.

Next up is Game 1 on Friday at Wrigley Field, against the Mets or the Giants, who play in Wednesday’s loser-out wild-card game. Mets ace Noah Syndergaard will face Giants ace Madison Bumgarner.

“This is 2016, so the Giants are going to be tough to beat no doubt,” first baseman –Anthony Rizzo said, referring to the -Giants’ even-numbered titles in 2010, ’12 and ’14. “Same with the Mets, with the experience they gained last year.”

Beginning of an ERA?

Kyle Hendricks didn’t finish the regular season with the kind of start he hoped to have Sunday against the Reds.

But after five innings with four earned runs allowed, he walked away with the Cubs’ first National League ERA title in 71 years.

“He’s obviously part of the -winning formula we’ve had all year,” Rizzo said.

Hendricks (16-8) finished with a 2.13 ERA, beating out teammate Jon Lester (2.44) to become the first Cub to lead the league since Ray Prim in their last World Series season (1945).

“I never thought I’d be in this situation at this point in my career, with everything that happened last year and the goals I set for myself this year,” he said, referring to an up-and-down 2015. “But there’s also a lot of other things that go into it. I’m such a pitching-to-contact type of guy. The defense has to play for me, and the catchers were a big part of it, too.

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Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

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