Now in his 15th year, Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo has found the friendly confines of Wrigley Field to be among the friendliest places for him to pitch. Heading into his start on Monday night against the Chicago Cubs, Arroyo sported an 8-3 record in 92.1 innings at Wrigley with an ERA/WHIP of 2.83/1.12.
So when Arroyo drew his first start at Wrigley as a member of the Diamondbacks, odds were that he would baffle the Cubs like he has so many times in the past.
Not so, and Arroyo has counterpart and former teammate Travis Wood to thank for that. Wood’s three-run, two-out homer in the bottom of the second rained on Arroyo’s parade. Wood added insult to injury in the fourth with an RBI double, while hurling the kind of gem (one earned run over seven innings) that Arroyo would have hoped to throw.
Arroyo was teammates with Wood while with the Cincinnati Reds. The bulk of Arroyo’s previous starts against the Cubs at Wrigley came as a member of the Reds, for whom Arroyo pitched eight seasons and tossed at least 200 innings each year except for 2011, when he threw 199.
Given his success at Wrigley, the real question entering his start against the Cubs was how the 37-year-old Arroyo would rebound from his last start. He surrendered nine earned runs in 3.1 innings against the New York Mets on April 15. It was the fifth time that Arroyo (a career 4.33 ERA pitcher) had surrendered at least nine earned runs in an outing.
Two of those nine-run beatings came in back-to-back starts in 2009, so Arroyo may have had that forgettable run in the back of his mind when he took the mound at Wrigley.
Regardless, Arroyo may have felt more pressure to deliver the goods at Wrigley on behalf of his last-place team, especially since the Cubs have the second-worst record in the NL next to Arroyo’s D-Backs. A solid outing would have gone a long way to dispel any burgeoning doubts that the two-year deal the D-Backs gave Arroyo worth $23.5 million might be money badly spent.
Now thanks to Wood, Arroyo will have to try to dispel those doubts next time around because he couldn’t make it out of the sixth inning against the Cubs while surrendering five earned runs on eight hits and three walks.