Arrieta is 3rd Cubs pitcher to throw multiple no-nos
By Doug Miller and Andrew Simon
Jake Arrieta delivered the 15th no-hitter in Cubs history and his second in as many seasons on Thursday night, as Chicago rolled past Cincinnati, 16-0, at Great American Ball Park.
The reigning National League Cy Young Award winner walked four batters and struck out a modest six, but he still became only the third pitcher to throw multiple no-hitters for the Cubs. Larry Corcoran tossed three back in the 1880s, while Ken Holtzman accomplished the feat on Aug. 19, 1969, against Atlanta, and June 3, 1971, coincidentally also at Cincinnati.
There were only nine starts for Arrieta between Thursday and last Aug. 30, when he no-hit the Dodgers in Los Angeles. In that game, he walked one, struck out 12 and saw one batter reach on an error. At 116, his pitch count was three below his effort the second time around.
The last no-no before Arrieta's first one came in Milwaukee on Sept. 14, 2008 -- in front of a predominantly Cubs-friendly crowd of 23,441 fans that shouldn't have been there. Fiery right-hander Carlos Zambrano had just recovered from rotator cuff tendinitis that had forced him to miss his past two starts.
Zambrano was scheduled to make his return to the Cubs' rotation on the team's upcoming road trip to Houston, but that plan had to be altered. Hurricane Ike rolled through the Gulf of Mexico and caused major damage to east Texas, making it impossible to travel to Houston.
In need of a place to play the series, the Astros fell into the unlucky predicament of having to play their home games in Milwaukee. Miller Park resides just 90 miles north of Wrigley Field. Cubs fans turned out in droves for Zambrano's start, and he rewarded them by throwing the first neutral-site no-hitter in Major League history.
Zambrano had removed himself from his last start -- 12 days prior to the no-hitter -- after feeling soreness in his shoulder. The Cubs had no idea what to expect from their ace, but he rewarded their faith by striking out 10 and making history in his first complete game since June 16, 2007. His spectacular start in '08 broke the longest drought between no-hitters of any team to previously throw one.
Thirty-six years before Zambrano's memorable night in Milwaukee, Milt Pappas, who passed away on Tuesday at 76, was the last Cubs starter to leave a team hitless. He had a perfect game with two outs in the top of the ninth on Sept. 2, 1972, but he issued a walk to Padres pinch-hitter Larry Stahl on a 3-2 count at Wrigley Field.
In an interview with ESPN in 2010, Pappas said he still has a gripe with home-plate umpire Bruce Froemming about the pitch. Froemming maintained that the pitch was outside and Pappas even admitted it was off the plate, but said the call should have been awarded to him. Cubs fans had that moment to sit on for more than three decades before Zambrano finally twirled his historic outing.
A few months before Pappas, Chicago starter Burt Hooton threw a no-hitter in his fourth career start. His April 16, 1972, outing against Philadelphia was his most lasting memory in a Cubs uniform before becoming an All-Star in 1981 with the Dodgers. Achieving a no-hitter so quickly after Hooton's debut was undoubtedly an achievement, but Don Cardwell actually completed one for the Cubs in his first Major League start on May 15, 1960.
Because of the Cubs' reluctance to add lights at Wrigley Field, it took until 1971 for a Chicago starter to throw a no-hitter in a night game. Holtzman was the first to do it, at Cincinnati, two years after he tossed his other no-no.
Doug Miller and Andrew Simon are reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.