Jake Arrieta has managed to engineer an against-all-odds career turnaround, and the no-hitter he pitched against the Dodgers on Sunday only reinforced that idea.
Arrieta, the starting pitcher who the Chicago Cubs acquired from the Baltimore Orioles, has been on the road to improvement for a long time. His career had a terrible four-year start with the Orioles and then promptly injured his shoulder after he was traded to the Cubs, but Arrieta has been picking up steam ever since he came off the disabled list in the early months of the 2014 season. This season, Jake has shown himself to be one of the Cubbies’ greatest strengths, going 17-6 with a 2.11 ERA and striking out over 1 batter per inning so far.
Jake’s nine innings without a single hit hit allowed on Sunday, though, was his crowning achievement.
Arrieta tried to remain humble, but one could see glimmers of his understandable pride in the accomplishment of joining the ranks of the only 294 pitchers to pitch no-hitters in the MLB’s 150-year history when he talked about it the day after the game.
“Yesterday just happened to be the perfect moment for it… From day one I knew I could pitch like this my whole career,” Arrieta said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“I did it in college, I did it in the minor leagues and I did it in the big leagues at times,” Jake continued. “So I knew there were some adjustments in there, mentally and physically, that needed to be made. And I knew once I was able to get over that hump that things would eventually work themselves out.”
Arrieta points out that the no-hitter was still not as clean as he would have liked, though. There was a short hop grounder in the third inning that was fumbled and called an error, but, writes a reporter for USA Today, Jake himself admitted it should’ve been scored as a hit.
“I thought it was a hit,” Arrieta said. “It was a tough play, a short hop.”
The Dodgers agree.
“Just ask Arrieta,” Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. “He said it was a hit. “I asked five of their players when they were on the bases and they all thought it was a hit. But you know what? He threw a great game. Hats off to him.”
And all hats were indeed off to Arrieta on Sunday night as soon as he struck out the last batter of the game, Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley.
“After the Utley strikeout, it was just a little relief and excitement, waiting for my teammates to mob me and waiting for the Gatorade bath,” said Arrieta. “That was a great feeling.”
Jake received all of the fanfare he was expecting, and the festivities continued as Arrieta donned him mustache-print footsie pajamas in preparation for the pajama party scheduled to occur that night on the Chicago Cubs team plane.
Jake even wore the onesie to a post-game press conference.
[Image by Jon Durr, Getty Images]