Arrieta makes triumphant return as Cubs beat Pirates 5-1

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports Images
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CHICAGO — Jake Arrieta pitched six solid innings in a triumphant return to the Cubs, Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward homered, and Chicago beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1 on Saturday afternoon.

Arrieta (1-0) got a warm reception prior to the game, then gave up just one run and six hits. The 35-year-old right-hander struck out five and walked one.

Arrieta played 4 1/2 years for Chicago, winning a Cy Young Award and a World Series, before signing with Philadelphia in March 2018. He returned to the Cubs in February for a $6 million, one-year contract.

“I’ve been anticipating this day for awhile,” he said.

The Cubs have, too.

“It brought back good memories of having him on the mound and pitching against the Pirates, good memories of him doing that a lot,” Bryant said.

One of Arrieta’s most memorable performances with the Cubs was his five-hit shutout in the 2015 wild-card game at Pittsburgh. He struck out 11 and did not walk a batter.

The Cubs beat St. Louis in their division series before losing to the Mets in the NLCS. A year later, they won it all, ending a championship drought dating to 1908.

Arrieta said he spent the past few days riding his electric scooter around the city, taking in the familiar old sights and mingling with the fans as much as he can.

“I look forward to more scooter rides, meeting more people,” he said.

GOING DEEP

Bryant made it 3-1 in the third with a solo homer to the center-field basket against Tyler Anderson, pointing to his baby son in the stands after crossing the plate. Heyward bumped the lead to three with a long drive to the right-field bleachers off Clay Holmes in the sixth. And the Cubs added another run in the seventh when Bryant walked and scored.

Javier Baez singled twice, drove in a run and scored one. He also stole two bases.

“J-Hey’s home run was loud,” manager David Ross said. “I don’t know if you could tell on TV or in the stadium. It was extremely loud. It was nice to hear that. Up and down the lineup, I thought we did a really good job.”

Heyward called his drive on a 3-1 sinker a reward for “doing things right and being on time.”

“Tried to be aggressive in the zone,” he said. “I feel like like they’ve done a good job these two games attacking us aggressively in certain counts, in certain times and then making us lay off a tough pitch. It was nice to get ahead right there and not miss one.”

STRONG RELIEF

Brandon Workman, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel each threw a perfect inning, combining to strike out seven and walk none. The Cubs avoided their first 0-2 start since the 2014 team lost the first two.

HAYES HURT

Pittsburgh’s Ke'Bryan Hayes left the game because of discomfort in his left wrist. He jammed his hand diving back to first on a pickoff attempt after walking in the first inning.

Hayes scored on Kevin Newman‘s two-out single. But Erik Gonzalez batted for him in the third and remained at third base.

Anderson (0-1) went five innings in his Pirates debut, allowing three runs and five hits. The left-hander, who signed with Pittsburgh in free agency, struck out seven and walked two.

CRICK’S RETURN

Pirates right-hander Kyle Crick was going through the intake process after being away from the team for the birth of his child. Manager Derek Shelton said he could be cleared as soon as Sunday. Crick had a 1.59 ERA in seven relief appearances last year.

UP NEXT

RHP Zach Davies, acquired from San Diego for NL Cy Young Award runner-up Yu Darvish, makes his Cubs debut, while RHP Mitch Keller starts for Pittsburgh on his 25th birthday. Davies was 7-4 with a 2.73 ERA in 12 starts for the Padres last year after playing his first five seasons for Milwaukee. Keller had a 2.91 ERA in five starts for the Pirates.

Report: Aaron Judge, Yankees reach 9-year, $360M deal

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SAN DIEGO — Aaron Judge has issued his ruling: Court remains in session in the Bronx.

Judge is staying with the New York Yankees on a nine-year, $360 million contract, according to a person familiar with the deal.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the AL MVP’s deal had not been announced.

Judge will earn $40 million per season, the highest average annual payout for a position player. The contract trails only Mike Trout‘s $426.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels and Mookie Betts‘ $365 million pact with the Los Angeles Dodgers for biggest in baseball history.

Judge was offered a long-term deal by New York before last season that was worth $213.5 million over seven years from 2023-29. But he turned it down in the hours before opening day in April.

The 6-foot-7 Judge bet on himself – and won.

Judge set an American League record with 62 homers in 2022, powering the Yankees to the AL East title. He also tied for the major league lead with 131 RBIs and just missed a Triple Crown with a .311 batting average.

New York was swept by Houston in the AL Championship Series, but Judge became the first AL MVP for the Yankees since Alex Rodriguez in 2007.

By rejecting the Yankees’ preseason offer, Judge gained $146.5 million and an extra two guaranteed seasons. The Northern California native also visited with the San Francisco Giants last month, and there likely were more teams monitoring the market for the slugger who turns 31 in April.

Judge’s decision will have a domino effect on several teams and free agents. His status held up at least some of New York’s offseason plans, but general manager Brian Cashman made it clear his team would wait patiently to see what Judge wanted to do.

In the end, the patient approach worked.

Judge, 30, was selected by New York in the first round of the 2013 amateur draft and made his big league debut in 2016, homering in his first at-bat.

A year later, he was one of baseball’s breakout stars. He hit .284 with 52 homers and 114 RBIs in 2017, winning the AL Rookie of the Year award. The four-time All-Star has 220 homers and 497 RBIs in seven big league seasons.