LOS ANGELES – A speaker sat on the floor in the middle of the Phillies clubhouse Tuesday night and the nightmare of a night earlier felt a bit further away as a booming playlist filled the room.
The Phillies were desperate for Tuesday night's 6-1 win over the Dodgers after they collapsed a night earlier. That loss, they said, would not linger. So they turned to Jake Arrieta and his $75 million arm turned the music with seven shutout innings. The Phillies jumped to an early lead, Arrieta shined, and the bullpen held together for the final six outs. This win felt – and sounded – like an emphatic statement,
"You want to be a stopper," Arrieta said. "Anytime you're in a situation when you lose a tough game, especially the first game of a series, you want to come out and put a stop to it. That's what I intended to do."
Gabe Kapler called Arrieta "an animal" after the pitcher struck out five, walked two, and allowed just six hits. He is the owner of the National League's highest groundball rate and he recorded 10 of his 21 outs through groundballs. He pounded the Dodgers with his sinker and seemed to be able to produce a groundball whenever he needed it. He was never in danger.
Arrieta finished May with a 0.90 ERA in five starts this month as he allowed just three earned runs over his last 30 innings. This month has been full of reasons for why the Phillies went and signed Arrieta just a month before the season. And Tuesday night – when the team needed him the most – provided another.
"He senses the big moment. He knows when it's on the line," Kapler said. "From yesterday, we needed to show some resiliency. We needed to come back and show the heart and the character of this team. Jake is sort of representative of that heart and character."
Nick Williams homered to start the second and Odubel Herrera followed six batters later with a two-run single. Scott Kingery and Jorge Alfaro produced a run in the sixth with back-to-back doubles and Rhys Hoskins, with a swollen face after being hit in the mouth Monday by his own foul tip, came through with a pinch-hit double in the ninth. Hoskins was cleared by a doctor before the game and will likely return to the lineup on Wednesday.
"Rhys, we wanted to get right back on the bike. We wanted to give him an opportunity to get out there and feel comfortable in the batter's box," Kapler said. "He wanted to be out there and I think that's important."
The night did not come without a scare. Hector Neris pitched at Dodger Stadium for the first time since last season's back-to-back-to-back homer game. His struggles continued Monday and he retired just one of the four batters he faced in the eighth. The feelings from Monday resurfaced as a four-run lead became a three-run lead and the Dodgers reached two runners on.
But Tommy Hunter was quick to silence the threat, needing just four pitches to record the final two outs of the eighth. Edubray Ramos handled the ninth. The Phillies had a much needed win. Arrieta, the one who wants to be a stopper, was quick to halt any thought that the season was ready to spiral.