Jake Arrieta, drenched by a Gatorade bucket shower, waited to do a postgame interview near the visitor’s on-deck circle at Great American Ball Park. One of the many Chicago Cubs fans in the crowd of 16,497 shouted at him again and again, “Jake the snake! Jake the snake!”
Arrieta, a 30-year-old right-hander from Plano, Texas, coiled himself around the Cincinnati Reds’ bats and poisoned their scorebook, sticking his fangs into the Great American Ball Park record book. He became the first pitcher to no-hit the Reds in Cincinnati since 1971 and did so in the most-lopsided no-hit victory of the modern era.
Behind Arrieta’s gem, his second no-hitter in as many seasons, the Cubs won 16-0 on perhaps the worst night — from a hitting and pitching perspective — in Reds history.
”What can I say, it was spectacular,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I hate to switch gears, but the offense was pretty good, too.”
Arrieta started thinking about a no-hitter in the sixth inning but kept his composure in the dugout. He walked Scott Schebler to lead off the ninth but then got Tucker Barnhart to pop out, Zack Cozart to line out and Eugenio Suarez to fly out to right to end the game.
“It feels different the second time,” Arrieta said. “I was a little more relaxed as the game progressed. Based on the way I threw the ball before the game started, I anticipated I’d have to grind through some at-bats and innings a little more than I did. I was able to get the ball in on the left-handed hitters for some called strikes and then go below the strike zone when I needed to for some big swings and misses. You put it all together and have conviction with what you’re throwing, and good things can happen.”
Here are five things to know about the no-hitter:
1. Reds reaction: Arrieta retired the side in order in the first, third, fifth, seventh and eighth. Three Reds who were in the lineup the last time the team was no-hit — by the Phillies’ Roy Halladay in Game 1 of the National League Division Series in 2010 — played Thursday: Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce.
“It’s tough. We got dominated,” Bruce said. “That’s the most dominating game I’ve ever been a part of. He was great. We weren’t. The news is we were no-hit and all of the runs that were scored, but at the end of the day, we lost a game.”
2. Historical performance: The Reds had collected at least one hit in the last 7,109 regular-season games, the longest active streak in baseball. Rick Wise, of the Philadelphia Phillies, threw a 4-0 no-hitter against the Reds on June 23, 1971, at Riverfront Stadium.
The Reds (7-8) fell four games behind the Cubs (12-4) in the National League Central Division. They’re 0-4 against the Cubs this season with three more games in this series.
“If you’re a Reds fan, you’re feeling miserable,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “As good as Arrieta was, nobody wants to get no-hit. Nobody wants to give up 16 runs. Nothing positive can come out of that game.”
3. Happy battery: Arrieta was just as happy for his catcher David Ross, who had never caught a no-hitter. The 39-year-old Ross, who broke up the Reds’ Brandon Finnegan’s no-hit bid in the seventh inning April 11 in Chicago, played for the Reds from 2006-08.
Ross also went 2-for-3 with a home run.
“It feels amazing,” Ross said. “It was one of my dreams. That stud made it come true. I’m on cloud nine. I’m on the moon. As a catcher and a guy who prides himself on calling a game, it’s one of those things I wanted to be a part of. I feel like I didn’t do a whole lot. That animal was in control the whole time. He knew exactly what he wanted tgo do. He locked it in when he needed to. That was fun to be a part of.”
4. Second no-no: Arrieta threw his first no-hitter on Aug. 30, 2015, against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The Cubs won that game 2-0.
“You have to expect certain things out of yourself,” Arrieta said, “but at the same time be realistic that the guys on the other side are good, too. Every once in a while, you’re going to get beat. You’re going to have off nights. The preparation is what allows the success to happen naturally. Even if you can’t dictate the results, you can play a big part in the way things unfold.
“That’s why I feel like I have a good chance to win every time I take the mound. Tonight was no different. I came out with some shaky command with pretty much all my pitches. I was using them nonetheless. As the game went on, I got a little more comfortable, pitching to contact pretty well. I had quite a few groundball outs.”
5. Pitching woes: The performances of the Reds pitchers couldn’t have been more different than Arrieta’s. The Cubs had 18 hits. They scored in all but three innings. They hit five home runs.
The Cubs recorded the most lopsided no-hitter since Pud Galvin led the Buffalo Bison to an 18-0 rout of the Detroit Wolverines on Aug. 4, 1884.
Reds starter Brandon Finnegan gave up a two-run home run to Kris Bryant in the first and left after allowing five earned runs in four innings. Tim Melville and Drew Hayes, who made his big league debut, each gave up four runs in two innings. Blake Wood allowed three runs in the ninth.
Finnegan said Arrieta’s performance didn’t affect him.
“He’s just another pitcher,” Finnegan said. “I know he’s been good the last year-and-a-half, but my job is to go out and keep us in the game, and I didn’t do that.”