By Sam Bush
When the Phillies paid big bucks last month to sign elite pitcher Jake Arrieta, many fans wondered if it were money well-spent.
Last night Arrieta lowered his ERA to 1.82 in 24 2/3 innings, struck out 2 and induced 11 ground balls, allowing 1 earned run in 7 innings.
And Aaron Altherr’s three-run homer off Zack Greinke in the sixth gave the Phillies a 5-3 win.
“Actions speak a lot louder than words,” Arrieta said. “Any time you can put into motion what you’re trying to emphasize to these guys, it plays a huge role in their development. I don’t intend to be a preacher. But there are a lot of things I regard very highly as a starting pitcher that I’m trying to emphasize to these guys, and they’re starting to grasp it and run with it.
“I’m trying to instill in the guys on this team that it’s part of the job description as a starting pitcher to be able to pick guys up and tell them after the fact, ‘Hey, I’ve got you.’ Everybody out there is doing their best. They’re not trying to make errors. You just have to have their back when things like that happen.”
After a 1-4 start, the Phillies improved to 15-8 and moved within a half-game of the first-place New York Mets in the National League East.
The Phillies made three errors nd have now committed 22 errors as a team in their first 23 games.
Cesar Hernandez was thrown out on an attempted steal of second base, and Carlos Santana ran into an out on a garden variety 8-3-6-4-3 relay in the third inning.
But the Phillies rallied to beat Greinke behind the climactic big fly from Altherr, who has found a way to squeeze 15 RBIs out of 10 hits in April. His .172 batting average is offset by a .375 mark (6-for-16) and a 1.349 OPS with runners in scoring position.
“I think he smelled it,” said Phillies manager Gabe Kapler. “He understands the big moment. They were flashing his stats with runners in scoring position up on the scoreboard. We knew when it left the bat that it was screaming. We just weren’t sure if it was going to get over the wall. We were all pretty fired up in the dugout. There were a lot of high-fives.