Cubs starter Jake Arrieta pitched brilliantly over eight innings in the first game of Friday’s double-header at Citizens Bank Park against the Phillies. The right-hander limited the Phillies to a lone run on six hits and two walks while striking out seven. Aaron Altherr accounted for the only run with a solo home run in the second inning.
With the performance, Arrieta won his major league-leading 19th game while sending his ERA below 2.00 to 1.99. He and Zack Greinke are the only two starters in baseball with an ERA below 2.00. He also carries a terrific 204/46 K/BB ratio in 199 innings.
Arrieta, 29, broke out with the Cubs last season. He was once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, but he struggled over parts of four seasons before the O’s sent him to the Cubs along with reliever Pedro Strop in exchange for starter Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger in a July 2013 trade. In 2014, Arrieta posted a 2.53 ERA over 25 starts. He’s shown, in dominating the National League this season, that last year’s performance wasn’t a fluke.
Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts helped his team take a commanding 7-0 lead in the fourth inning against the Phillies on Saturday, clearing the bases and coming around to score on what should have been only a double, but turned out to be a Little League grand slam.
Bogaerts slashed an Alec Asher offering down the right field line. Right fielder Aaron Altherr corralled the ball and hit cutoff man Cesar Hernandez. Hernandez fired a weak throw to catcher Carlos Ruiz, bouncing off of him and into foul territory. Betts, at third base, used the opportunity to scamper home. Bogaerts was credited with a double and three RBI, advancing to third base on the relay throw home and scoring on Hernandez’s throwing error.
David Ortiz followed up with a solo home run, his 30th of the season and the 496th of his career.
Maikel Franco’s chances of playing again this season took a hit today, as the Phillies rookie third baseman felt soreness in his fractured left wrist while attempting to take batting practice.
Franco is about four weeks into his recovery from the injury and Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that the Phillies “will slow him down.” Playing again in late September hasn’t been ruled out, but it’s not looking likely at this point.
Franco has had a fantastic rookie season, hitting .277 with 13 homers and an .830 OPS in 77 games at age 22. He’s one of the Phillies’ few bright spots this year and looks like a long-term building block.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported on Saturday that Phillies starter Aaron Harang cleared waivers. As a result, any team desperate for back-end rotation help can try and negotiate a trade with the Phillies.
Harang, 37, has had a tough 2015 campaign, currently holding a 4.79 ERA with an 86/42 K/BB ratio across 139 innings. He spent a few weeks on the disabled list between the beginning and end of July due to plantar fasciitis. The right-hander is owed the remainder of his $5 million salary for the 2015 season and will become a free agent after the season.
Left-hander Cesar Jimenez, who was designated for assignment by the Phillies, has been claimed off waivers by the Brewers.
Jimenez is a 30-year-old journeyman reliever, so it’s a low-wattage move, but Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Brewers may be looking to trade setup man Neal Cotts and, if that happens, they could view Jimenez as a southpaw bullpen fill-in.
Jimenez has a 4.15 ERA in 85 career innings as a big leaguer and has also spent parts of 10 seasons (yes, 10 seasons) at Triple-A posting a 3.85 ERA.