Man … at least the Blackhawks won last night, right?
I kid, of course, because Jake Arrieta no-hit the Cincinnati Reds! And, Brett was there to see it! Arrieta’s no-hitter was the first of the 2016 MLB season, the second of his career, and the second in his last eleven regular season games. Think about that for a second – eleven games, two no-hitters. We can say it jokingly, or half-heartedly, but Jake Arrieta is truly on another level right now, and he’s about as good as they come.
As Brett recovers from attending pretty much the most exciting non-playoff-implication baseball game in the history of the sport – I’ll take you through some other Cubs-related bits …
- … like David Ross, who also had a truly fantastic night. “My good offense gets overshadowed by a no-hitter,” Ross jokingly told reporters via ESPN Chicago, “I’m kind of mad at him [Arrieta].” Apart from calling the no-hitter (the first of his career), Ross finished the game 2-4 with a walk, a home run, three runs scored and a pick-off of Eugenio Suarez at first base. Obviously a majority of the credit for the no-hitter must go to Arrieta, but there’s no doubt that Ross’ defense, game calling, and pitch framing were a big help (and to think, he just randomly caught last night’s game to give Miguel Montero some rest). For some more on the no-hitter from David Ross’ perspective, check out this article at ESPN here. Ross is very happy to be a part of one just before he retired, and we should see him out there today, as Jon Lester takes the mound.
- Also tangential to the no-hitter is the defense that surrounded Arrieta’s start. As Mark Sheldon writes, no no-no is complete without defensive gems, and last night was no exception. There was Ross’ pick-off, Anthony Rizzo’s diving play, Addison Russell’s double play (on a ball struck sharply up the middle), several line drives run down by Dexter Fowler, and Kris Bryant’s backhanded grab of a sharply hit ground ball in the third inning of the bat of Zack Cozart. Obviously, in the moment you couldn’t have known how important that play would ultimately become, but in hindsight it looks crucial.
- And how about the night Kris Bryant had at the plate, as well? He went 4-6 with two home runs, raising his batting average up to .273. In fact, in just one night his slash line improved from .233/.303/.383 (.304 wOBA), to .273/.333/.500 (.361 wOBA).
- But he wasn’t the only one last night. The Cubs collectively scored 16 runs on 18 hits (8 for extra bases), 6 walks, and 5 home runs. I was most encouraged to see Ben Zobrist have himself a night (3-5, 2B, HR, BB), because he hadn’t really found his groove yet. And, of course, Arrieta himself added two hits and a walk. Ah … well, not a moment after we acknowledge that the offense is human, they go and drop 16 runs on us. This season might not match the fun of 2015, but it’ll certainly surpass the insanity.
- Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Cubs offense now has the third highest OBP (.351), well behind Pittsburgh’s enormous lead (.381), but only just behind Baltimore (.352):
Top five, OBP: PIT .381, BAL .352, CHC .351, STL .348, BOS .332. Bottom five: PHI .271, CWS .275, OAK .283, TB .289, LAA .294.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 22, 2016
- But you already knew that the Cubs were good at getting on base. Instead, the reason I’m sharing that fact is to better highlight this new one:
The Chicago Cubs have the 9th lowest strike out rate in baseball (20.6%). Last season, their strikeout rate was a league leading 24.5%.
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) April 22, 2016
- Indeed, the Chicago Cubs have the ninth best strike out rate for any team in 2016, are tied for the second best walk rate and have the third best OBP. They’ve also scored the most runs and have – by far – the largest run differential in baseball, +60. Good times.
- At CSN Chicago, Patrick Mooney writes how Jason Heyward changes the way we all think about free agency, given all of the things he does so well besides the traditional triple crown statistics. With his defense well on display early in the season, it hasn’t been hard to see how valuable he can be, even without a traditionally big bat.
- The Cubs hope Jorge Soler can find some consistency, and first step will be accepting walks when they’re offered. According to bench coach Dave Martinez, as soon as Soler learns to wait back solely for pitches he can drive, he’ll begin taking more walks, hitting for a better average and finally putting his seemingly obvious and natural power to good use. In his last ten games, he’s hitting just .231/.364/.385, but he’s also got a 15.2% walk rate. According to manager Joe Maddon, “The sky’s the limit [for Soler],” and I think he’s about to really break out.
- Speaking of Jorge Soler, he was pranked by Pedro Strop (who has the most excellent laugh in the history of laughs) and we have it all for you at Baseball Is Fun.
- Lastly, at the Chicago Tribune, Mark Gonzalez writes that the Cubs (from the players to the manager) think they can actually play better than their already league best record indicates. Montero, for one example, has been very impressed by the work ethic of every single player on the team. Reportedly, no one is taking their past success for granted and everyone is working as hard or harder than ever. In addition, Joe Maddon offers some really thoughtful, meaningful quotes on the excellent numbers coming from the bullpen and starting staff, but his last quote has me in stitches: “We have a good record minus various offensive people that haven’t been offensive yet. ” Maddon said to the Chicago Tribune (presumably dressed as Yogi Berra), “They have to become more offensive, and they will.”
- If you missed anything yesterday, you can catch up here:
- Jake Arrieta Has Thrown His Second No-Hitter
- WATCH: Kris Bryant (x2), Anthony Rizzo, David Ross and Ben Zobrist Go Deep
- The Cubs Are Investing Big in Mexico
- How Kyle Schwarber’s Injury Will Impact the Cubs’ Catching Rotation
- Controversy and Competitiveness Attend the Cubs-Cardinals Rivalry
- Series Preview: Cubs v. Reds
- Albert Almora Crushed His First Home Run of the Year