Arroyo looks to become baseball’s first six-game winner when the Reds continue their three-game series with the surging Arizona Diamondbacks Saturday at Chase Field.
Arroyo (5-0, 2.06 ERA) allowed just four hits in a complete-game, 6-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday, becoming the first Reds starter to win his first five decisions since Paul Wilson went 7-0 in 2004. Arroyo, off to the best start of his career, also became the first Reds pitcher to last at least eight innings in three straight starts since Jose Rijo in 1994.
“He’s been outstanding,” teammate Felipe Lopez said. “You can’t say enough about what he’s done. He’s helped a lot.
“He brings the personality of being on a winning team. He has a lot of experience in the postseason, and we’re feeding off that.”
The Reds (20-10) acquired Arroyo in a March trade with the Boston Red Sox for outfielder Wily Mo Pena, and he has helped drastically improve a rotation that was the worst in the league last season. Cincinnati starters have a 4.40 ERA, down nearly a run from 5.38 in 2005.
“Half these (National League) teams haven’t seen me in a long time,” said Arroyo, who began his career with Pittsburgh from 2000-2002. “When they did, I really wasn’t the same pitcher that I am now. I was a young guy uncomfortable in the Major Leagues. For that, hopefully I’ll have a little bit of an advantage the first half of the season.”
Arroyo threw just 109 pitches in his second career complete game. His only other complete game was for Pittsburgh on Oct. 2, 2001, against the Mets.
He had thrown 16 straight scoreless innings before giving up Juan Encarnacion’s second inning homer.
“This guy is not a fluke,” manager Jerry Narron said. “He’s got a great feel for pitching. Anybody that changes speeds out there with the breaking ball like he does has a chance to be successful. He’s used to pitching to good lineups. In the American League, it’s up and down the order. You don’t get any easy outs.”
Arroyo has made two career relief appearances against the Diamondbacks, going 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA.
Arizona (17-13) has won six straight games, including Friday’s 7-1 victory in the series opener. Luis Gonzalez doubled and singled in a seven-run second inning for the Diamondbacks, who last won seven in a row from Sept. 24-Oct. 1 last season.
Arizona, which scored seven runs in an inning for the third time this season and second time in four games, is four games above .500 for the first time since last June 14, when they were 35-31.
Chad Tracy went 0-for-3 with a run, ending his home run streak at four games.
Ray Olmedo had a pinch-hit RBI single in the fifth for Cincinnati, which is 3-3 since a six-game winning streak.
Claudio Vargas (3-1, 4.32) looks to keep Arizona’s winning streak alive. Vargas won his second straight start on Monday, allowing two runs—one earned — and seven hits in six innings of a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The win was the first at home for Vargas, who had been 0-1 with a 16.50 ERA in his first two starts at Chase.
“Everybody knows I didn’t pitch well here the last two starts at home, but tonight I felt better and I fought,” Vargas said.
Vargas has allowed just the one earned run in 13 innings in his last two starts. He is 0-2 with an 8.31 ERA in three career starts against the Reds.