After a heartbreaking end to the homestand in yesterday’s 4-2 loss to the Yankees, the Chicago Cubs got their 10-game road trip off on the right foot with a 5-1 win over the Padres in San Diego on Thursday night. Jake Arrieta (1-0, 2.33) was tremendous once again, tonight only yielding four hits, including his only mistake – a solo home run from Seth Smith in the first inning – in six innings of work. Arrieta earned his first win of the year.
Meanwhile, former starter Carlos Villanueva pitched three shutout innings of relief ball to garner his first save of the year in old-school style. The innings were a blessing to a bullpen who was pushed in yesterday’s 13-inning loss to the Yankees at Wrigley Field – a game that saw manager Rick Renteria use six different pitchers. Tonight the bullpen got the rest it needed heading into one the season’s toughest road trips – thanks to the efforts of Villanueva.
Anthony Rizzo put the Cubs on top to stay in the fourth inning with a towering two-run blast into “sandpit” behind the wall in left-center field, 2-1. Then in the fifth the Cubs played small ball to score three runs on four hits to take a 5-1 lead.
From there, Arrieta took over.
The Padres were dressed in their 1980’s throwback uniforms – those of the mud brown and mustard yellow combination. Most Cubs fans see nothing but 1984-style pain when those uniforms are brought out. Tonight it was easy sailing for the Cubs in a place they don’t normally fare well.
Uncle Charlie was Arrieta’s best buddy tonight – his curveball helped him strike out seven in his six innings. Other than the home run to Smith in the first inning, Arrieta was in complete control.
Given the timely hitting in the middle innings, the strong start from Arrieta – then followed by the nearly flawless bullpen work from Villanueva – it’s safe to say the game went according to script for Renteria.
It’s another 9:10 CST first pitch tomorrow night for Game Two of this four-game set. Edwin Jackson (3-3, 3.98) will take the mound for the Cubs following his best start with the Cubs his last time out – a 3-0 win over the Brewers. The Padres will counter with Tim Stauffer (1-0, 2.41). The game will be televised by Comcast Sportsnet and will be broadcast on WGN Radio AM 720.