Right now, not being talked about is probably for the best. Who have been the most oft-discussed figures of the 2018 season thus far? Gabe Kapler, Odubel Herrera, J.P. Crawford; all guys around whom complaints from logical to ignorant have floated. Meanwhile, Jake Arrieta, the Phillies’ big, late off-season acquisition, who was brought in to help stabilize the rotation with Aaron Nola, hasn’t been scrutinized as much as an expensive new starting pitcher typically would be. And that’s okay. I think we can all see the benefit of a drama-free evening. And Arrieta, who threw seven innings of one-hit, ten-strikeout baseball, gave it to us.
Look at us now. No whining ourselves to sleep. No headlines about how someone’s mistake cost the Phillies a game. No theories about which non-Scott Kingery Phillies player is to blame for what perceived wrong. Just sitting here, basking in the effortless domination of a first-place team.
Arrieta punched through the Pirates like wet paper in a start reminiscent of a similar Phillies outing with one or two of the same faces.
Jake Arrieta (10 SO, 1 H) is the first Phillies pitcher to record a double-digit strikeout game and allow one hit or fewer since Cole Hamels no-hit the Cubs at Wrigley Field, July 25, 2015. The opposing starting pitcher in that game? Jake Arrieta.— Chris Ware (@cwarephils) April 20, 2018
With every start, Arrieta becomes more primed, from his rehab starts to his solid Phillies debut, to tonight, when, after he left the field, all anyone could talk about was no-hitters.
Jake Arrieta's line: 7 ip, 1 h, 0 r, 2 bb, 10 k. First time he threw 7+ innings with 1 or fewer hits and 10 or more strikeouts since he no-hit the Dodgers on Aug. 31, 2015.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) April 20, 2018
Man, who wasn’t throwing no-no’s in 2015?
In any case it was all working, including the curve. With a couple of runs from his offense, Arrieta wasn’t going to give the Pirates any breathing room. Fortunately, when we say “it was all working,” we mean the offense, the base running, and hell, even the coaching.
Rhys Hoskins opened the second inning with a bomb to left field, giving the Phillies an instant 1-0 lead. Nick Williams drew a walk off Pirates starter Jameson Taillon, and Taillon responded by hitting Scott Kingery (who got the start at third and made a brilliant back-handed play), or at least, some air near where Kingery was standing. J.P. Crawford then laid down a strategically devastating bunt and reached base safely, leaving the bases loaded as a dejected Pirate plucked the ball off the infield grass.
It was Jorge Alfaro’s chance to be a hero, but he was devoured by strikes and went down swinging. Jake Arrieta did the same. But what continues to be interesting is that Cesar Hernandez is never more comfortable than when the odds are against him. With two outs and a full count, an early scoring chance on verge of being wasted, Hernandez patiently cracked a single to center field with the runners going. Williams and Kingery scored, and then Crawford, maybe halfway to third as the center fielder picked up the ball, got the green light from third base coach Dusty Wathan. Catching the Pirates lollygagging, Crawford’s speed allowed him to score with ease, giving Hernandez a rare bases-clearing single. Odubel Herrera then knocked him in with a single, because this is a team with hitters in almost every slot.
Taillon didn’t make it out of the second inning.
Herrera singled in Carlos Santana in the fifth, as well, to make it 6-0 and Crawford singled him in to make it 7-0. Kapler went to the pen and dispatched Yacksel Rios, who struck out two in a scoreless eighth, followed by Victor Arano, who created zero interesting situations with a clean 1-2-3 ninth.
In their stately powder blue throwbacks, the Phillies set down the Buccos with frankness and efficiency. With some tough teams coming to town, and the Pirates having proven early on that they aren’t slouches themselves (yet), the Phillies will take every boring, no-drama, brain fart-free victory they can get.