When Jake Arrieta and Chris Sale struggle, the earth wobbles

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Is Jake Arrieta slipping? Please. The Braves could tell us a thing or two about having pitchers who are slipping. (AP/Jeff Roberson)

Jake Arrieta wasn’t himself Wednesday afternoon. He was Edwin Jackson.

Chris Sale wasn’t himself Tuesday night. He was John Danks.

It’s strange any time either of Chicago’s aces struggles, but seeing both struggle in less than 24 hours makes you look to the horizon for an imminent plague of locusts.

There’s nothing much to be made of the back-to-back bummers, no grand meaning to be extracted, other than it’s hard to be wonderful all the time. It was clear almost from the start of the Sox’ loss to Cleveland on Tuesday that Sale was off. He had trouble finding the strike zone, especially with his breaking ball. He had come into the game the winner of his first nine starts and left with his first defeat, having given up six earned runs in 3 1/3 innings.

Arrieta gave up a run in the first inning against the Cardinals. It was the first time he had given up a run in the first inning of a game since May 29, almost a full calendar year. His troubles weren’t nearly as bad as Sale’s – he gave up four runs in five innings in a 9-8 victory – but when you come into a game with an 8-0 record and a 1.29 earned-run average, greatness is expected/demanded.

That’s not how baseball works. An Indy car driver once told me his job was like keeping a ball bearing rolling along the edge of a razor. Pitching isn’t that, but it does take precision. Arrieta and Sale have had it most of the time this season. When they didn’t have it this week, they hit walls. Arrieta won, Sale lost and no one died.

The struggles happened on consecutive days. Weird, is what it was.


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