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That time former Nationals' skipper Davey Johnson talked about Jake Arrieta's "spitter"...

Davey Johnson was a master manipulator... of sorts. For example, there was that one time the now-former Washington Nationals' skipper tried to get in Jake Arrieta's head. Will the Nationals be able to beat the Chicago Cubs' ace today?

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Davey Johnson on Jake Arrieta's "spitter":

We have told this story every time Jake Arrieta has faced the Washington Nationals since 2012, so bear with us, like you do with that drunk at the bar or family gathering who repeats the same stories every time you see them because this a good-ish one...

Back in 2012, when veteran skipper Davey Johnson was still on the bench in the nation's capital, he had a way of telling stories with a purpose, planting seeds with the press that seemed innocuous at first, but served a purpose.

Johnson did, at times, attempt to get into a rivals' head.

"I wasn't accusing him of throwing a spitter, but I said I'd like to see a better wipe. I didn't realize he was that fidgety..." -Davey Johnson on Jake Arrieta

The one example that always stands out took place after a May 18, 2012 game against the Baltimore Orioles, a team Johnson did, of course, play for and manage long before he took over in Washington.

Jake Arrieta, an O's starter at the time, before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs he pitches for now in 2013, held the Nationals to six hits and one run in a 2-1 win in the series opener of a three-game series between the regional rivals.

Knowing that Washington would likely see Arrieta again in another series in June, Johnson tried his best to subtly get into the right-hander's head in his post game press conference.

"[Arrieta] made some good pitches," Johnson told reporters after the loss. "At certain times we took fastballs right there. He had a little slider and decent curve ball.

"I complained early on because he'd go to his mouth two or three times and I didn't see a real good wipe.

"I wasn't accusing him of throwing a spitter, but I said I'd like to see a better wipe. I didn't realize he was that fidgety, he's got all kinds of moves out there..."

What appeared to be just a throwaway line at the end of his meeting with reporters, definitely got back to the Orioles' starter, who took to Twitter, or "the Tweeter" as Johnson often referred to it, two days later:

While Johnson's initial comment barely garnered attention, Arrieta clearly heard them, or got wind of them, but somehow, word got back to him and annoyed/humored him enough that he responded to Johnson's snipe.

Of course, that was all before Arrieta developed into the pitcher he is today.

In four seasons since he joined the Chicago Cubs, the 30-year-old righty is (42-13) overall in 73 starts.

Heading into the series finale with Washington in Wrigley Field, the defending NL Cy Young Award-winning righty is (6-0) in six starts this season with a 0.84 ERA, a 2.80 FIP, 12 walks (2.51 BB/9), 37 Ks (7.74 K/9) and a .142/.209/.213 line against in 43 IP.

The Cubs, as's Carrie Muskat noted in a preview of today's matchup, have won Arrieta's last nineteen starts, "... extending a franchise record that surpassed 17-straight by Ed Reulbach (1906-07) and Pat Luby (1890-91)."

As the Cubs beat reporter notes, only five pitchers since 1913 have had the teams they start for win 20-straight starts.

Will Arrieta become the sixth this afternoon? Will the Nationals avoid a sweep with the Cubs' ace on the mound?

We'll find out at 2:20 PM EDT when the Cubbies and Nationals wrap up their four-game set in Wrigley Field...

Here's the Nationals' lineup for the series finale with the Cubs: