Let's paint the scene: It's July 25, 2015 and Jake Arrieta is one pitch away from getting out of the top of the third inning against the Philadelphia Phillies. 

Ryan Howard has other ideas, however, and sends an Arrieta offering into the Wrigley Field bleachers for a three-run homer.

Most people may remember that as the day Cole Hamels no-hit the Cubs, but it was also the last time Arrieta gave up a run at Wrigley Field in the regular season.

Arrieta dazzled Saturday, tossing eight shutout innings as the Cubs beat the Colorado Rockies 6-2 in front of 41,702 fans at Wrigley Field.

The reigning National League Cy Young winner surrendered just five hits and one walk while striking out eight against a lineup that came into the game leading Major League Baseball in homers, total bases, average and OPS. 

"He's the reigning Cy Young for a reason," said David Ross, who caught Arrieta Saturday. "He's really good. Made great pitches. Great fastball command. Threw the ball really well. It's typical Jake. ... It's a really good lineup over there and he made it look easy."

His scoreless streak at home now sits at 48.2 innings, which is the longest streak in Wrigley Field history and longest around Major League Baseball since 1974.

The mind-boggling stats just keep rolling from there:

–It was the 23rd straight quality start Arrieta has turned in, the longest such streak since Bob Gibson three an MLB-record 26 straight quality starts from 1967-68.

 

–The Cubs have won 16 straight Arrieta decisions, the longest streak in franchise history. In those 16 games, the Cubs have outscored their opponents 81-20.

–Arrieta now has a 1.94 career ERA at Wrigley Field (227.2 IP), the lowest mark in Cubs history.

–The outing lowered Arrieta's season ERA to 1.23 and WHIP to 0.77 over the first three starts of 2016. He also boasts a ridiculous 20:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. For perspective, in his Cy Young season last year, Arrieta had a 1.77 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and 4.92 K:BB ratio.

"He is impressive," Ross said. "I think we're a little spoiled around here because you come to expect greatness out of him and all our staff."

Arrieta looked like he could go the distance Saturday, rolling a double play ball immediately after walking the leadoff hitter in the eighth inning and then getting a fly out to center on his 100th pitch of the afternoon. But manager Joe Maddon made the call to let Arrieta hit for himself in the bottom half of the eighth inning and then go with Travis Wood and Pedro Strop to close out the game in the ninth.

It's all part of the organization-wide plan to make sure to save some bullets in Arrieta's right arm for late in the season as the Cubs hope to make a run deep into October.

Regardless of all the accolades and records, Arrieta has maintained his tireless work ethic between starts.

In a way, it's not just that he's picked up where he left off in that unbelievable second half. He's almost outdoing himself.

"This game will humble you and it can do it in a heartbeat," Arrieta said. "Remaining humble and working hard, regardless of your success and failures is the most important way to approach it. Not taking anything for granted.

"That's why I try and work the way I do between starts, to prepare as well as I can. When I take the mound, that's the fun part. Just kinda let everything fly and let the results speak for themselves."

After looking lackadaisical at the plate and in the field Friday, the Cubs went out and proved manager Joe Maddon right - 24 hours really does make a huge difference.

The Cubs mashed on their way to support their ace, hitting three home runs - back-to-back solo shots on back-to-back pitches by Anthony Rizzo and Jorge Soler in the fourth inning and then a two-out, three-run blast by Dexter Fowler in the seventh inning.

Javier Baez made his season debut, starting - and playing stellar defense - at second base while also collecting two hits, scoring a run and striking out twice.

But the story of the day was all Arrieta, who continues to astonish the baseball world.

If Ross had to step into the box against Arrieta, how would he approach the at-bat?

"You're asking the wrong guy," Ross said. "I don't know what I'd do. Get in the box and pray?"