BALTIMORE -- As Jake Arrieta ran to the Oriole Park mound for the first time since April 21, 2013, fans of his former team cheered him and feared for what the now-Chicago Cubs right-hander would do to his old team.
On July 2, 2013, the Orioles traded Arrieta to the Cubs, and the pitcher with a 20-25 record and 5.46 ERA in parts of four seasons quickly turned things around in Chicago.
More than four years later, the Arrieta Orioles fans hoped to cheer for years ago was on display. He limited the Orioles to four hits and one earned run in 6.2 innings in the Cubs’ 10-3 win before 40,258, July 15.
Arrieta allowed three baserunners in the first on a single to second baseman Jonathan Schoop and two walks, and was helped out when third baseman Manny Machado was thrown out trying to steal third.
In the second inning, an excited Arrieta tried to catch left fielder Trey Mancini’s foul pop instead of allowing catcher Willson Contreras to do it instead. The ball fell away, but after that, Arrieta mostly sailed along.
Catcher Caleb Joseph homered in the bottom of the fifth for the Orioles’ first run, but by then, they trailed 7-1.
Arrieta struck out three and walked three. He got to enjoy a second straight offensive onslaught by the Cubs, as left-hander Wade Miley allowed seven runs on nine hits in 4.2 innings.
He defeated the Orioles in Wrigley Field in August 2014, but coming here was fun for him.
“It's a really cool feeling. It really is,” Arrieta said. “Seeing the guys you used to play with. There's still a lot of them over there. Playing here in Camden Yards, it's one of the most beautiful parks in all of baseball, and it was just really cool. It really was. The fans were gracious. Some chirping in the bullpen before the game, which I expect.
“But, all in all, it was a great experience. I was fortunate enough to be able to play here for a few years. Now I've moved on to this phase of my career. But, you know, I wouldn't trade the years I was here for anything. It was an enjoyable experience. I learned a lot, and I'm able to be the player I am today because of what I went through while I was in the organization.”
The Orioles have allowed 10 or more runs 12 times this season. Nine of the 10 Chicago runs were scored with two outs.
“That’s really frustrating to be that close to getting out of an inning unscathed,” manager Buck Showalter said. “With Arrieta out there you feel like runs are going to be at a premium. You’re trying to keep it close and see if you can do some damage. We had him over 40 pitches the first couple innings, so there was the potential there, but once they jumped out like that, our guys got a little aggressive.”
With the nonwaiver trading deadline of July 31 approaching, Orioles fans shuddered as their team dropped to six games under .500 -- 42-48, equaling their low point of the season.
When Arrieta was traded four years ago, right-hander Pedro Strop, who is still with the Cubs, went along with him. The Orioles received right-hander Scott Feldman, who left as a free agent after the season and catcher Steve Clevenger, who was traded in December 2015 to Seattle for Mark Trumbo.
Machado, center fielder Adam Jones and first baseman Chris Davis were the only players in the lineup who were teammates of Arrieta’s in Baltimore. They know he’s a far different pitcher now.
“I think he’s just got a better tempo,” Davis said. “I don’t feel like he’s going for the strikeout every time as much. I think that was something that when he was here, early in the season especially, he’d get a few outs and he’d want to get a strikeout or he’d want to strike everybody out. He’s pitching. A lot of that is maturity and it’s a credit to him growing as a player.”
ODDS AND ENDS: Right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez (4-4, 6.67) faces left-hander Jose Quintana, who’ll be pitching for the Cubs for the first time. Quintana was acquired from the White Sox July 13.
- Shortstop J.J. Hardy’s cracked rib has healed, Showalter said. Hardy will be able to concentrate on rehabbing his broken right wrist.