Last night I went by myself to a bar to watch hockey. I knew the Cubs were on, and my main man crush, Jake Arrieta, was on the bump. But I figured, “It’s April, there’s playoff hockey on, it may be my last chance this year to see the Blackhawks play, or the Ducks, and mostly it would be an amazing opportunity to watch the Red Wings lose!”
So to the bar I went. Now, luckily the particular watering hole I frequented had many television sets tuned to a variety of different games. In one room, they had on the Detroit Tigers-Kansas City Royals game, which was a national telecast on Fox Sports 1. My eyes happened to glance in that direction at one point for ever so brief a second at which time I saw on the bottom of the screen, “Jake Arrieta has a no-hitter through six innings.”
At that point, I had to keep an eye on that t.v., just to see if there were any updates. I continued watching hockey on multiple sets, basically walking the bar just to get updates. And then I noticed while one hockey game was at intermission, the Royals game had turned into the bottom of the ninth in Cincinnati with my man crush just three outs from a second no-hitter in less than eight months.
And so my eyes were tuned, and my whole heart, for those five or so minutes, in line with watching my guy make history. When he did I shouted, pumped my fist and did a little leap in the air, much like Arrieta was doing with his teammates inside Great American Ballpark.
But enough about what happened last night, at least from my perspective.
Because I missed the majority of the game in real time, I’m going to go back and relive it, as if I have no idea what happened. I’m going to go back to the first inning with the Cubs up to bat and relive this amazing evening, one which ended with all the baseball and hockey teams I was rooting for posting victories.
Top of the 1st
Even before the Cubs had taken their first ups, Len and J.D. were comparing Arrieta to Bob Gibson, much like Jason Stark did Friday.
First pitch swinging, Dexter Fowler, the most valuable player in the first month of the season, based on WAR, just missed a home run on an absolute laser shot to straightaway centerfield for a standup double.
After a Jason Heyward strikeout, 2015 NL Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant, my other man crush, took an inside fastball and murdered it all the way into the second deck of the left field bleachers in this dainty ballpark just outside Kentucky.
This could be a good omen, as the last time Bryant homered on the road in his first at-bat of the game in a Jake Arrieta start, muscle man had a fine, fine outing.
Bottom of the 1st–Cubs 2, Reds 0
Arrieta’s first pitch of the game creates a jam shot where Cincinnati’s leadoff hitter, Zack Cosart, nearly fouled out to David Ross, but for some stupid railing getting in the way.
Four pitches in, and none retired yet, and Len Kasper is already talking about Arrieta’s prior no-hit bids against this Cincinnati ballclub. Everything at this point seems to be foreshadowing something awesome happening.
Reds first baseman and No. 3 hitter came into the game with a 0-16 stretch at the dish. Len wisely says, “I think it’s bad.” Votto then proceeded to hit a cue shot which bounced just in front of the amazingly solid fielding Addison Russell at short, who dug it out and threw easily in time to Anthony Rizzo at first for the relatively easy 1-2-3 in Arrieta’s first inning.
Top of 2nd Inning–Cubs 2 Reds 0
With nobody out, Ben Zobrist put a solid swing on the ball and muscled a ball out to right field for his first dinger as a Cub. Zobrist came in struggling, by his standards, at the plate. A home run here was but another in the line of positives which developed early in this contest.
Two hitters later, Len gets demonstrably excited about David Ross’ infield single which Eugenio Suarez never even picked up.
Ross’ battery mate continued the assault on poor Brandon Finegan. Len and JD are quick to remind us the Cubs’ hitters have been amazing this year, as of yesterday even better than Mike Trout.
2016 NL MVP frontrunner (lol!) Dexter Fowler reaches base and drives in Ross on a fielder’s choice groundout to extend the inning and the lead to 4-0 with just two outs.
After an opposite field Texas leaguer gets through off the bat of Heyward, the Cubs improve to 6-of-11 against Finnegan, who came into the contest with the best batting average against him in the league, at .129.
Bottom of the 2nd–Cubs 4 Reds 0
Kris Bryant continues his nice night, making a tough grab on an in-between hop right at him. Arrieta then relinquishes his first free pass, this one to Jay Bruce. Interestingly, you can see with Arrieta some issues with his mechanics when he missing wildly outside the zone.
Arrieta talks a lot about balance and rhythm within the scope of his mechanics. He honestly believes when he is out of balance and rhythm, he will not throw the ball as well as he is capable. And interestingly, if you watch enough of him–as I do–you can actually see it.
All that being said, Jake comes back and throws a filthy 12-to-6 curve ball which ends up in the dirt, but which Reds catcher Devon Mesoraco decided to swing over the top of.
As Arrieta labors himself into a 3-2 count, Len and JD quip, “If you want to beat Arrieta, you have to throw a no-hitter.” He then gets left fielder Adam Duvall to chase a slider in the dirt to end the second inning.
In that frame, Arrieta was a bit wild, but still managed to make the Reds look hopeless.
Top of the 3rd–Cubs 4 Reds 0
Cubs go scoreless, and nothing super important happens.
Bottom of the 3rd–Cubs 4 Reds 0
After another 3-2 count, Arrieta challenged the eighth-place hitter, centerfielder Scott Schebler who lined hard to right.
Arrieta throws a two-seam fastball right about letter high to cut down the opposing pitcher on a backwards K.
Len is unashamed to bring up the fact “Arrieta is no-hitting the Reds through three” after Bryant bounced a ball in the dirt, successfully picked by the sure-handed Rizzo at first.
Top of the 4th–Cubs 4 Reds 0
Arrieta is now 2-for-2 as David Ross draws a throw to third after challenging the outfielder. Finnegan backs up the errant throw but then throws the ball away as he tries to then pick Arrieta off first base, allowing Ross to race home, in what could only be described as a little league type play.
Brandon “Ham” Phillips then barehands a potential double-play ball off the bat of the MVP favorite–now might be a good time to admit, that while I have two man crushes who wear Cubbie blue, I’m getting dangerously close to adding a third, and it’s Fowler.
I mean between him, and his little girl, how could he not be?
Bottom of the 4th–Cubs 5 Reds 0
I lost track of how a Reds runner got on here, but given I do know the final result, it was obviously not through a hit. I also cheated and noticed the Cubs didn’t have any errors in this game.
So it must have been Arrieta’s second walk of the contest. Either way, David Ross just picked off Suarez at first, something he has done masterfully in his year-plus as the Cubs’ backup catcher.
Rizzo then stole a hit away from the National League’s hottest hitter in the second half of 2015, Joey Votto, on a sharp ground ball he went to the ground to pirouette and toss to Arrieta covering at first.
Ham then went onto hit a soft ground ball over to Bryant who made the catch-and-throw look too easy.
Top of the 5th–Cubs 5 Reds 0
I love Len and JD. Len just mentioned that he’s in a bad fist bump/handshake slump in the past week. I love the fist bump, it’s my thing, I’m a huge proponent.
It brings my heart joy to know Len is too.
Also his puns. Len just used the pun, “And Melville authors…”
Gosh, I love Len! Maybe he’s a fourth man crush of mine.
Oh and the end of that quote was “a scoreless inning”.
Bottom of the 5th–Cubs 5 Reds 0
Something Arrieta was expected to do more of in 2016 was throw his changeup. It has undoubtedly become a greater part of his arsenal, which is almost literally unfair to hitters.
He uses it on a 2-2 count to get Bruce to swing out of the zone on his 69th pitch of the game. Luckily he gets the next two hitters in five pitches to end his 5th inning at 74–which is still a higher number than you’d want if you’re planning to throw a complete game.
Top of the 6th Inning–Cubs 5 Reds 0
David Ross leads off the top half of the 6th by going the other way with a lined shot which got out of the yard in like a second for his first homer of the year.
Of course the youthful Cubs affectionately refer to him as Grandpa Ross, and so when he gets back to the dugout they do some weird hip check celebration thing. It’s weird, but obviously pretty cool. This team really loves their grandpa.
Len continues to be the best, though I already forgot what he said which impressed me so. Then my third man crush drew a walk again, expanding his current OPS well north of 1.200. Just ridiculous man.
My other position playing man crush gets on base, this time with a loopy single to left. Though it’s only 6-0 in the sixth, it’s clear the Cubs are well in front. They have 10 hits as a team already.
Hey two bombs in two nights, as Rizzo uses his two-strike, pepper swing to still golf the ball out to right field, and now gives the Cubs a 9-0 lead. It came just a few pitches after a pitiful effort by Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez on a foul ball, which should have ended the inning but gave Rizzo another chance.
Next pitch after Rizzo’s bomb, Jorge “George” Soler pummels a ball off the wall in left field. I’m more concerned about the lights than I am anything else. Anytime Soler swings it, the ball goes “WAP!”
Soler equals master of the exit velocity.
Len mentions with Zobrist at the dish (about to take a walk) the game will switch networks, as CSN will transition to the Blackhawks pregame show. I mention that mainly to give you a timetable for where we are in regards to the evening.
Bottom of the 6th Inning–Cubs 9 Reds 0
I skipped Arrieta’s third walk, to see Jordan Pacheco hit a lazy grounder right at Anthony Rizzo and nearly get doubled off at first. Addison Russell made a fine turn at the bag to nearly complete the improbable double-play.
Hey, Len brought it up. Remember the Cubs’ no no-hitter streak which ended last year at the hands of Cole Hamels? Apparently going into Thursday night, the Reds were the new team with the longest no no-hit streak, having not given up a no-hitter since 1971.
Arrieta then gets the double-play he almost had on Pacheco to get through six unscathed and mostly unbothered.
Top of the 7th Inning–Cubs 9 Reds 0
Hey Arrieta gets on base AGAIN! And Fowler keeps doing Fowler things.
I just realized my 1a and No. 3 man crushes go back-to-back in the order now that Joe Maddon has gone back to hitting his pitcher ninth [by the way, I think this is brilliant in a way. Maddon is just straight up trolling everyone. Last year he used the pitcher in the eight-hole, had success and then pulled back the tarp this year, like, “I know y’all are just copying me. I don’t actually believe in hitting the pitcher eighth.”]
And there ya go. Man crush 1b–KB–goes bye-bye with the bases juiced. This time it was to straightaway centerfield, and there was no doubt it was gonzo.
Seriously with K.B.’s swing there is no doubt. And it’s so effortless. In fact, is there an easier, sweeter swing in all of baseball?
Also, is there a point where you actually just say, MERCY!? I feel like at 13-0 in the top of the seventh, maybe the Cubs should just stop swinging. Maybe they shouldn’t even take a bat up to the plate with them.
It’s almost as if simply taking a bat to the dish means the ball will find it and then ricochet at violent speeds over the outfield wall. I mean this is just mean, kind of.
Bottom of the 7th Inning–Cubs 13 Reds 0
Hey, Arrieta is at 90 pitches thrown through 6 2/3 innings. This came after two consecutive groundouts on relatively low pitch count at-bats.
And another K on a nasty, filthy, [throw-in-the-blank for whatever other adjective seems appropriate] breaking ball in the dirt. This time it is Ham who goes down and becomes the fifth victim on the evening.
It is getting exciting!
Top of the 8th Inning–Cubs 13 Reds 0
JD like, “It’s about as good an ofer performance you can have…”, speaking of Addison Russell who has had no hits but lined the ball all over the yard all night long.
And he swings through a fastball for a likely full game ofer, in a 13-0 game. Tough luck buddy!
Bottom of the 8th Inning–Cubs 13 Reds 0
As we work our way into the bottom half of the eighth inning, it’s pretty clear the nerves are growing, and people in the ballpark are feeling the weight of a potential no-hitter.
It’s especially obvious when CSN shows Cubs fans yelling and screaming but also looking uneasy.
Now it’s 95 pitches through 7 1/3 innings after Jay Bruce hits a weak liner to centerfield, which Len was nervous about until Fowler showed he had it with no problem.
It takes five more pitches, but nearly the same result, as Fowler records another putout to get Arrieta to 7 2/3 innings without giving up a hit. What is even happening?
And then in three pitches, he mowed down Duvall, finishing him off with a 12-to-6 curve ball Duvall never had a chance to hit.
Top of the 9th Inning–Cubs 13 Reds 0
Another way to say what I did earlier, “If you don’t feel a little jittery right now, you don’t have pulse.” Maybe this should ONLY be Len Kasper-isms from here on out.
Hey look, KB did it again! His fourth hit of the night! This time he went oppo to get it. Stud!
HAHA! Len is just now bringing up Sunday, August 30. He’s too slow.
But interestingly, Addison Russell also went hitless in that game, and was the only starter to do so. Weird. Coincidence?
Also Len’s got no chill. He just don’t care about jinxes. And I love it!
And hey, everybody’s favorite Ceasar, err…Szczur, with the RBI single. And then Zobrist with two runs batted in. Wild. Unfair.
And still Russell doesn’t get a hit. Poor kid. There’ll be better days, I’m sure.
Bottom of the 9th Inning–Cubs 16 Reds 0
Len starts the bottom of the ninth with, “And here we go!” Len is clearly excited, as he should be. Only Vin Scully is a better announcer in all of baseball.
The crowd is now pretty loud. Each pitch receives a reaction, almost like a playoff or World Series game.
And as JD has spoken of numerous times during this start, Arrieta simply pitches around Schebler after getting to 3-2. He simply did not have to challenge Schebler while holding on to 16-0 lead.
And there’s the first out of the inning–a weak pop-up to Addison Russell. One out, and Jake at 112 pitches thrown.
There’s No. 2, as Fowler makes the basket catch against his body on the lined shot from Cosart. It came immediately after Len pointed out Miggy Montero handed in the lineup card at home plate.
Montero, not starting Friday night, did the same. As some said on Twitter, that was the most obvious move of the whole night.
Pitch 118 just missed. Could have recorded the no-no with a backwards K. Would have been sweet.
Still Suarez pops up lazily to right and Heyward makes the easy grab. Arrieta has done it! Two no-hitters in 11 regular season starts!
Who does that?
It’s only the 15th no-hitter in franchise history. It is unbelievable. Literally.
And Arrieta is doing something no one has ever done…in baseball history. And the cool thing is, Grandpa Ross got the love too. It was almost as much about him as it was Arrieta.
In the wrap-up interview with Len and JD, Arrieta even brought up Ross and Lackey, and having the ability to do this for them, in a sense. This team, and the team with a family-type environment, is just so special.
How can you not love this team? How can you not love these guys? All these guys? They are special.