The question isn’t how Jake Arrieta managed to throw a no-hitter Sunday night. The question is how the Dodgers managed to get a bat on a baseball.
It wasn’t just overpowering speed from Arrieta, though there was plenty of 95-m.p.h. heat. It was guile and deception, too, a stew of pitches that all started off looking the same and ended up taking different routes.
Chase Utley was the last man standing Sunday, and when he was done swinging, he stood there with the same bewildered look on his face as all the other Dodgers who had come before him. He was done in by a nasty slider, Arrieta’s 12th and final strikeout of the night.
The Cubs’ ace struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth, a perfect ending to an almost perfect night. The Dodgers’ only base runners came via an error and a walk.
That’s how you end a four-game Cubs’ losing streak.
“Kind of speechless right now,” Arrieta said before getting a Gatorade bath from teammates.
A no-hitter fits perfectly with what has been a special season for the Cubs. Almost everything they have touched has turned to gold. They have gone beyond any reasonable and unreasonable expectation. No one could have foreseen Arrieta going 17-6 with a 2.11 earned-run average. No one could have foreseen very good turning into great so quickly.
But few could have seen the Cubs where they are now, steaming toward a wild-card berth.
So a no-hitter on a late August night against a first-place team on the road? Makes almost perfect sense.