Now, 46,679 fans at Dodger Stadium and those watching on television can say they saw Arrieta join Ryan, Sandy Koufax and other elite pitchers who have accomplished the feat.
Arrieta threw his first career no-hitter and picked up his Major League-leading 17th win Sunday night in a 2-0 Cubs victory over the Dodgers. The right-hander struck out 12, including the side in the ninth, although he wasn't certain that's how the game ended. Arrieta had to ask some of his teammates what happened.
"We were doing a toast and he asked if the last three outs were all strikeouts," pitcher Dan Haren said. "He said it was going so fast he didn't realize it. I'm sure the adrenaline was going."
Arrieta has come close before. Seven times in his last 18 starts of 2014, he took a no-hitter into the fifth inning.
"As the game wore on, I tried to use the past experiences to my advantage," Arrieta said. "I tried to stay calm and maintain the focus on just going out there and executing quality pitch after quality pitch."
He's come a long way from Baltimore. The Cubs acquired him in July 2013 from the Orioles, and last season, he tied his career high with 10 wins. He could double that total this year. The difference? Fastball command. Cubs manager Joe Maddon saw the potential when he faced the right-hander in the American League. Sunday was the culmination of a team effort.
"For those around him, it's not surprising at all," Maddon said. "It's a combination of Jake's skill, his drive, and who he is combined with some really awesome and detailed instruction from [pitching coach] Chris Bosio and [coach] Mike Borzello and [bullpen coach] Lester Strode. Give [catcher Miguel Montero] credit, too."
This was Montero's second no-hitter; he also caught Edwin Jackson when he posted one with the D-backs. However, Montero was a little nervous because Arrieta was "brutal" in warmups.
"We'd lost four in a row and I thought maybe he's trying too hard," Montero said.
Arrieta did just fine. It was not a perfect game. The Dodgers' Kiké Hernandez reached on an error by Starlin Castro with one out in the third, and Arrieta walked Jimmy Rollins with two outs in the sixth.
"As I've matured and gotten older, I've developed an understanding that what happens in the pregame and the bullpen doesn't dictate anything leading into the game," Arrieta said. "Once you get in between the lines, just execute. That's the only focus. That's the mindset I carried into games."
We'll talk about tomorrow, but damn, that was fun. @Cubs
Arrieta is the 10th Cubs pitcher since 1900 to throw a no-no, and the first since Carlos Zambrano did so in September 2008.
"He has that kind of stuff nightly -- it's really crazy," Maddon said of Arrieta. "The ball looks like a Wiffle ball from the side. You can see the break on the slider and the cutter and the curveball. Right now, he's pitching on another level. And he deserves it."