Have you had your Jake Arrieta moment yet?
I’m sure most of you have over the last year. It was that moment when it finally hit you — “I’m watching something spectacular.” We’ve been watching a historic run, which I’ll dive into later, but first allow me to share my Jake Arrieta moment.
I was at Wrigley early last August for a day game with the Giants. I had been to a number of games over the Summer, but this was different. There was a noticeable buzz. Cubs fans can be a late arriving crowd — The walk from the Wrigleyville bars isn’t long, but fans usually like to get one last beer poured off the Murphy’s tap before pouring into Wrigley Field for the game.
Not on this day.
As Arrieta warmed up in the Cubs’ pen before the game, fans flocked to the area, watching intently, noticing every little move he made and whispering to one another every time his 95 MPH sinker smacked Miguel Montero’s mitt.
As soon as he took the bump for the first inning, the game was a blur. At times, he made it look like clock work, inducing ground ball after ground ball with his sinker. Other times, he looked like some kind of baseball wizard — and I don't just say that because of his beard — his 12-6 curve ball looked magical all day long. He pitched into the 8th inning, mowing down the Giants lineup along the way and allowing just four hits and not a single run.
This was my moment. At this point, he had allowed only 10 earned runs in his last 10 starts. Little did I know, he was just getting started.
Some of you had probably had your moment by this time. But perhaps not.
Maybe your moment was his first no-hitter. Or his second. Or maybe your moment was his complete game shutout against the Pirates in the wild card play-in game. Or maybe you still can’t wrap your mind around what you’re watching. And that’s okay too. Your moment is coming.
The only loss Arrieta has had in his last 29 regular season starts came because of Cole Hamels' no-hitter. During that 29-game stretch, he’s 24-1 with a 0.99 ERA. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of those starts. That’s the longest streak of its kind since the pitching rubber was moved to 60 feet, 6 inches in 1883 according to the Chicago Tribune.
His quality start streak that was snapped last month at 24 was the second longest of all time, falling just short of Bob Gibson’s record of 26. Since the beginning of last year, he’s struck out 303 batters in 297 innings pitched. In his last 30 starts, there have been 15 outings where he hasn’t allowed a single run. Five of those games were complete game shutouts.
I could keep going, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll stop. You get the point: He’s been fantastic.
Arrieta takes the hill tonight against the Dodgers. 40-some thousand fans will watch at the friendly confines with thousands more joining on the airwaves of CSN Chicago and ESPN. The last time Arrieta pitched against these Los Angeles Dodgers? August 30th. His first no-hitter.
The Cubs haven’t lost a game he’s pitched in his last 23 starts. Tonight, he will try to extend that franchise record to 24 games.
Maybe your moment will be tonight. We’ll see.