PITTSBURGH There's probability in sports. There arevarying degrees of likelihood, and educated gue swork, and projection.There isn'tinevitability, though. Not really. So, even though it has felt for weeks months? years? like Jake Arrieta would waltz into PNC Park for the NL wild-card gameand throw, say, 113 pitches (77 for strikes) in nine innings, he still had to do it.MORE: Photos of Cubs' victory | MLB postseason TV scheduleAnd hey, look what happened.Gue s his pitch count.Behind Arrieta's shutout Wednesday night his scorele s streak is at31 innings and counting, and his ERA since Aug. 1 is 0.37 the Cubs beat the Pirates 4-0 to advanceto the NL DivisionSeries. Chicago's winwas about more thanArrieta; there were dingersinto rivers and cleared benches and battered Gatorade coolers, and that all needed to happen to make his night matter on a larger scale.But let's start with him. Major league hitters can't rattlethe Zach Davies Jersey
guy; it was silly for fans to think they could, and he said as much on Twitter. It was prescient.The one bit of trouble Pittsburgh forced him into bases loaded with one out in the sixth ended with Starling Marte grounding into a double play. At that point, the game felt over.He is a really cool cucumber, I gue s you could say," Cubs catcher David Ro s said. Sure."A stupid analogy, but yeah, hes a cool guy.MORE: Cubs (and fans) celebrate like World Series winners| Cubs' memorable postseason momentsThat was probably the inning a reporter was talking about when he alluded to stuff that "may not have been as crisp as we've seen it the past few months." It's about degrees of dominance; technically, one-hitting the Pirates, as he did in late September, is better than four-hitting them, like he did on Wednesday.Arrieta wasn't buying it, though."Well, I'm not sure what game you were watching," Arrieta said. "Had a couple sliders that just kind of spun out of the zone, couple pitches I didn't finish, pulled a couple fastballs, but that was in the span of about 25 pitches over the course of five or so outs."Mixed in there were two hit batters and a lot of frustrated guys in the other dugout. Naturally, when Arrieta came to the plate in the following half-inning, he took a fastball to the hip. Tony Watson, in an overwhelming likelihood, hit him deliberately. Baseball players did their fighting-baseball-player things, as Arrieta, mainly, stood on first base.MORE: Arrieta expected to be hit | 'Interview' with the Gatorade coolerA few dozen seconds after Pirates utilityman Sean Rodriguez beat the holy hell out of a large beverage bucket, Arrieta stole second.I dont think it really fazed him too much," teammate Jon Lester deadpanned later in between champagne shots to the face.At that point, the Brewers Womens Cool Base Custom Jersey
game was 4-0, and Arrieta, by virtue of a pitch count that manager Joe Maddon placed at "infinity," was on track to pitch the remaining three innings.I didnt want to see anybody in the bullpen, Arrieta said. I wanted to finish what I started and be the guy to get the last out. That was the mindset.The main reason he had the chance to get that last out in the ninth inning as opposed to the 10th or the 13th or the 20th was becauseDexter Fowler and Kyle Schwarber gave him early, significant support. Fowler led off with a single against Gerrit Cole, stole second on the next pitch and scored on Schwarber's single.1-0.With Fowler on base again in the third, Schwarber 22 years old, the No. 4 pick in the 2014 draft,16 homers in 69 MLB games before Wednesday sent a slider that manager Clint Hurdle said "spun almost like a BP fastball" over the stands, out of the park and into the Allegheny River on a bounce. 3-0Kyle Schwarber unloads. (Getty Images)(Cole) just left a pitch over the plate that I could hit, and I got it," Schwarber said. Milwaukee Brewers White Jerseys
Did you put your head down and run, or did you watch that one a little?"I watched."So did Lester, who's set to start against the Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday. He focused, as many have, on the play ofrookies like Schwarber, third basemen Kris Bryant and shortstop Addison Ru sell, and the front office that targeted and developed them. That, Lester said, is whymore wins are coming.I saw something the other day, where Schwarber wasnt supposed to be a first-round pick. We took him with what, (the) fourth pick? A year later hes in the big leagues and the guy hits 16 homers," Lester said. "Hes the difference in the game."In the fifth, meanwhile, Fowler drove himself in. "Then hehits a home run," Schwarber said. 4-0.Arrieta, minus the bench-clearing non-fight, had things buttoned up from there.Pittsburgh, for the second straight year, has lost at home in the wild-card game to a best-in-cla s pitcher. In 2014, it was Madison Bumgarner. Now, it's Arrieta."Sports is hard," Hurdle said. "Life's not not fair."It can also bepredictable.