Cubs fans hoping to see back-to-back no-hitters from Jake Arrieta will have to wait until Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field, where every start is becoming a chance to witness history.
As heavy rain fell on the North Side, the Cubs postponed Wednesday night’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers without setting a makeup date. Arrieta will now get a full week of rest after no-hitting the Cincinnati Reds in another dominant performance that raised questions about whether or not performance-enhancing drugs helped fuel his transformation into a Cy Young Award winner.
Arrieta, who clearly enjoys the spotlight and this new level of fame, even responded to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith on Twitter, promising to laugh off all the media hot takes and whispers from opposing players after his pronounced struggles with the Baltimore Orioles (20-25, 5.46 ERA) and Triple-A shuttles between 2010 and 2013.
More ESPN talking heads appeared Wednesday afternoon on the muted clubhouse TVs, with an Arrieta segment framed by the question: “Flattered by PED accusations?”
“I don’t have any doubt that he’s clean,” said David Ross, who caught Arrieta’s no-hitter at Great American Ball Park. “I’ve seen his workouts and how hard he works, so there’s no doubt in my mind. People are going to speculate. That’s part of life. I don’t put too much stock in what (other) people think.
“I don’t care – I’m worried about this group in here. That’s all we can worry about. I can’t worry about outside influences. There are teams trying to beat us. We got to take care of ourselves. If we start worrying about other people, then we got problems.”
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There are many theories supporting Arrieta’s late-blooming career, from the differences between Baltimore’s rigid pitching philosophy and The Cubs Way, to snowballing confidence in a new city, to a Pilates routine and plant-based diet, to finding a work/life balance at the age of 30.
This unbelievable run – the Cubs have won Arrieta’s last 17 regular-season starts – also coincides with a Major League Baseball drug-testing policy that might be the toughest in professional sports.
“I remember being in Baltimore and talking with a lot of the other guys about how we can rid the game of people that are trying to cheat,” said Arrieta, who’s now a players’ union representative. “I feel like a lot of steps have been taken in the right direction to kind of eliminate all that. Because if I’m doing it the right way, I expect everybody to.”
Arrieta is now the fourth reigning Cy Young Award winner to throw a no-hitter, joining an elite list that includes Sandy Koufax (1964), Bob Gibson (1971) and Clayton Kershaw (2014). Arrieta is 20-1 with a 0.86 ERA and 33 walks against 173 strikeouts in his last 24 regular-season starts, putting the Cubs on his broad shoulders and carrying them into World Series contention.
“When you see it every day, and (watch) the way he goes about his business, you come to expect it,” Ross said. “So it’s not shocking to us in here, because he wants to be great and he prepares himself to be great.”