The word "intrigue" can carry a negative connotation, suggesting some kind of mystery.
But the Cubs seem to have an intriguing new pitcher in Jake Arrieta, and they seem quite happy with that kind of intrigue.
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Making his second start for the Cubs, Arrieta worked 7 shutout innings Friday, allowing just 2 hits in a 7-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs obtained the 27-year-old right-hander from the Baltimore Orioles in a July 2 trade for pitcher Scott Feldman. What the Cubs got were a pair of live arms in both Arrieta and reliever Pedro Strop.
Arrieta made a spot start in the second game of a July 30 doubleheader, and he held the Brewers to 2 hits and 1 run over 6 innings.
"That's the kind of stuff power arms can do when they're throwing strikes and making pitches and you have a 91 mile-an-hour cutter or slider or whatever you want to call his off-speed pitch, curveball," said Cubs manager Dale Sveum, whose team snapped a four-game losing streak and improved to 53-68. "He made some really good pitches in some key situations and counts.
"When anybody can throw a ball 90 miles an hour, spin it and that kind of thing and have the velocity and have 97 (mph) in your back pocket when you need it, too, it's very intriguing."
Arrieta's had an up-and-down season in every sense. He has spent time with the Orioles, their Class AAA Norfolk team and also the Cubs' Triple-A team at Iowa.
Now, he's in the rotation to stay at the big-league level.
"I think the biggest thing is just being able to get into a routine again and knowing that I'm going to be taking the ball every fifth day for this team," he said. "That's a good feeling. It's something I've envisioned myself doing ever since the trade was made. I knew it was just a matter of time. My mindset was just to go about my business and progress and be consistent, whether it's here or Iowa.
"I think the goal is the same, and that's to be successful at minimizing the damage and keeping my pitch count down and getting deep into games because that's what we need here."
The Cubs routed Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook, getting 3 runs in the first inning and adding on later. Another recent call-up, third baseman Donnie Murphy, was on base four times, with 2 singles, a walk and getting hit by a pitch. Sveum called him the Cubs' best hitter since he's been up. Murphy is 11-for-33 in 10 games.
"It's always a positive," Murphy said of his contributions. "It's always a confidence builder, too, when you can come up and from Day One help the team out hitting wise.
"I'm 30 years old. Hopefully, this is just the beginning of a lot more time in the big leagues for me."