ANAHEIM -- Opening Day in Orange County was spoiled to some extent, as the Los Angeles Angels couldn't muster enough offense to score a run against opposing pitcher, and defending National League Cy Young Award winner, Jake Arrieta.
In just the fifth Interleague game on Major League Baseball Opening Day history, and second for the Angels, the Cubs rallied for nine runs in the final five innings to defeat the Halos, 9-0. The Cubs offense was lifted by table setter, Dexter Fowler (3-for-4), and Matt Sczcur and Miguel Montero, who both collected three RBI.
- Garrett Richards faces seven batters, allowing two runs on 41 pitches in the fourth
Before the first out of the fourth inning was recorded, Richards had already thrown 19 pitches, and had to throw 17 more to gain the second out.
"They had some long at bats," Richards said. "I threw some good pitches that they fought off and they had long at bats which got my pitch count up which got me out of the game early. We got burned on the shift a couple times, which was just good placement on their part. They're a good team so what are you gonna say?"
Between the 36 pitches thrown prior to recording the second out, Richards was showing signs of wear on the mound, physically. He closed out the inning with back-to-back strikeouts of Addison Russell and Dexter Fowler, who may have been his last batter faced for the night if not for the punchout.
"I think any pitcher that throws that many pitches in an inning, you're gonna be tired," said Angels manager, Mike Scioscia. "But, he still had enough juice in him to go back out there and finish the fifth. He wanted to go back out for the sixth but fourth inning was close to where Garrett was gonna come out.
Aside from the fourth inning, Richards allowed just four hits and one walk, while striking out five (seven total for the game). Richards will look to rebound from this start in his next, which is expected to be Saturday against the Texas Rangers.
"With the exception of the fourth inning, I think I was cruising," said Richards. "I feel confident in my stuff. I'm not gonna go up there and pitch to a lineup based on who's name has what on their back. I'm gonna pitch my game and I'm confident pitching against anyone in this league."
- Jake Arrieta threw seven scoreless innings, retiring 20 of 23 batters faced
Arrieta, the reigning Cy Young Award winner for the National League, took the mound like he hadn't stopped his reign from the prior season. In his seven innings, Arrieta did not allow a player to reach scoring position, allowing just two hits and one walk, while striking out seven.
"We don't face many guys like him and we've never faced him before, so that makes it tough," said Angels outfielder, Kole Calhoun. "He threw the ball where he wanted to, pounded the zone, kept us off balance, all the stuff you have to do to win."
The Cubs' "ace" became just the sixth pitcher in Cubs history with seven or more innings pitched and two-or-less hits allowed on Opening Day, and has recorded 12 consecutive wins dating back to his last losing effort on July 25th of last season, which ranks second best in franchise history.
"I expect to pitch this way every time I take the mound," said Arrieta. "Obviously, once the ball leaves your hand, you can't dictate the results. But I expect to execute. If I execute and I pound the strike zone with my stuff and keep 'em guessing, I have a pretty good opportunity to have another good year."
- Garrett Richards incorporated his new changeup early in the affair
In the early goings of Monday night's game, Garrett Richards worked in a new pitch to his arsenal - a changeup. In the first three innings, Richards threw five changeups, three of which were swung on and missed, with one missing the zone and one being placed for a hit.
"It's a developing pitch, but I threw some really good ones. I threw some good sliders, my two-seamer was sinking and my four-seamer was cutting. I thought I had good stuff tonight, they just happened to put the ball where we weren't."
BY THE NUMBERS:
- Angels pitching recorded 12 strikeouts, which matches an Opening Day franchise record for a nine-inning game
- Angels were shutout for the third time on Opening Day, with the last coming in 2002, when they went on to win the World Series
- Daniel Nava collected his first hit in an Angels uniform
- Garrett Richards holds a 4-2 record, with a 1.42 ERA in 82.2 innings of Interleague play
- Cubs collected their sixth Opening Day shutout, and second with three-or-fewer hits allowed (1934 vs. Cincinnati)
- This was the Cubs largest Opening Day shutout victory in franchise history, which the previous coming in a 6-0 victory in 1934
- Miguel Montero became the first Cubs catcher to hit a home run on Opening Day since Scott Servais in 1996
- Jake Arrieta became the third pitcher in Cubs history with at least four consecutive scoreless starts, matching Ryan Dempster (who finished with five straight in 2012) and Bill Lee (1938)
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Jake Arrieta, 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 89/64
Arrieta continued his dominant ways, collecting his 21st straight start with at least six innings pitched. Over that span, he holds a 0.82 ERA, and has seen his last 17 starts go for more innings pitched than hits allowed (59 hits, 123.1 innings pitched)
You're gonna face good pitching every night. Jake Arrieta is a legitimate 'number one' and he showed it last year and picked up with it this year again, we didn't get too many good looks at him."
Arrieta is now looking at a carrer-best, 29 innings straight, of scoreless work, with 10 of his last 13 regular season starts going for no earned runs allowed.