Powell: Jake Arrieta Delivers a Gem and the Cubs Live Another Day

Game 4 of the NLCS between the Cubs and Dodgers. Oct. 18, 2017 (Kevin Powell/WGN Radio)

By Kevin Powell

WRIGLEY FIELD – In what could be his final start as a member of the Cubs, Jake Arrieta turned in an outstanding performance, giving up just one run while striking out nine in a must-win Game 4.

“It’s a win or go home,” Arrieta said after the Cubs beat the Dodgers 3-2. “So I had that mindset that I’m going to do everything in my power to get it to tomorrow.”

As Arrieta made his way off the field after 6 2/3 innings, he tipped his cap to over 40,000 fans in attendance. So, was that a thank you or a goodbye?

“Hopefully it’s not a goodbye. It’s a thank you, obviously. I still intend to have another start in this ballpark. But if that’s where it ends, I did my best and left it all out there.”

As a pending free agent, who knows where the 2015 Cy Young winner will be next season. But in a critical Game 4, Arrieta gave the Cubs exactly what they needed – pitching deep into the game and limiting the Dodgers potent offense.

“More than anything, I’m watching their reaction to his pitches and the swings and misses, the ball was moving that much,” manager Joe Maddon said.  “So, he needed to pitch as deeply as he did for us to get that win tonight. Good for him. Stayed with him as long as I thought we could.”

Arrieta threw 111 pitches, and it really did look like he left it all out there.

“Jake’s performance was unreal,” Kyle Schwarber said. “That guy was stellar. Just the way that he composed himself out there, and the way he went out there and threw the rock, it was exactly what we needed.”

Arrieta’s been a rock in the Cubs rotation for the past few years, and he’s delivered in key moments, including in Game 6 of the World Series. If it really was his final go-around with the Cubs, it was a special performance to add to a long impressive resume.

MADDON EJECTED, AGAIN

There was a weird moment in the eighth-inning that led to Joe Maddon’s second ejection of the series. It appeared Wade Davis had struck out Curtis Granderson. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf ruled Granderson out after he swung at a breaking ball. Third base umpire Aaron Cooper, for some reason, stepped in and decided that Granderson actually caught a piece of the ball and that it was a foul tip.

Maddon went off, understandably. His postgame thoughts:

“I’m not going to sit here and bang on umpires, and I love a lot of guys on this crew. I’ve known them for a long time. But that can’t happen. The process was horrible. To have that changed and if Granderson hits the next pitch out, I might come running out of the clubhouse in my jockstrap. That was really that bad. So you can’t permit that to happen.

“The process was wrong. The explanation was eventually — eventually it turned into hearing two sounds. Not one of them saw a foul tip or heard — thought it was a foul tip. It was based on two sounds, which I totally cannot agree with that process whatsoever. When you have 40-some thousand people, it’s late in the game. The other sound could have come from some lady screaming in the first row. I have no idea. I can’t buy that process. Could have been a guy too. I don’t want to bang on a lady.”

Wolf did eventually admit they got it wrong.

Fortunately for the Cubs, Granderson has been ineffective at the plate and proceeded to strikeout on the next pitch. But man, imagine if he did actually get a hit. Things would have gotten ugly at Wrigley.

Kevin Powell covers Chicago baseball for WGN Radio and anchors sports on The Roe Conn Show with Anna Davlantes, M-F/3-7p. Follow on twitter @kpowell720