Arizona Diamondbacks at Chicago Cubs
The no-hitter isn’t as rare as it used to be. Three different pitchers have held teams hitless already this season. That said, it’s still an impressive feat, and the Chicago Cubs’ (75-57, 40-28 home) ace Jake Arrieta (17-6, 2.11 ERA) is fresh off no-hitting the Dodgers in his last outing. Today, Arrieta could become the first player ever to throw back-to-back no-nos as he takes the mound to face the struggling Arizona Diamondbacks (65-69, 31-35 away) for the second of three at Wrigley Field (2:20 PM Eastern).
Arrieta gave up just one walk against the Dodgers (and saw another hitter reach base on an error), but was otherwise perfect, leading his team to a 2-0 win. The big righty’s 17 wins lead the MLB, while his 2.11 ERA is second only to NL Cy Young shoe-in Zack Greinke.
Today, Arrieta will be facing a Diamondbacks team that is trending down. Not much was expected of Arizona coming into the year, but they managed to keep it close in the NL West to start the season. The low expectations have come to fruition of late as the D-Backs were swept by the Cards and then lost two of three to the A’s (both at home) before splitting with the lowly Rockies in Colorado.
Tonight, they’ll send lefty Robbie Ray (3-10, 3.72 ERA) to the bump. The 23-year-old has been up-and-down this year, but deserves better than his 3-10 record. His last two starts epitomize his season; last time out (against Colorado), he went 5.1 innings and gave up just one run on five hits while striking out 8, but wound up with a no-decision. Prior to that, he was erratic against the Cards, walking five and giving up six earned over just three innings while taking the loss.
Arizona’s recent struggles have left them all but eliminated from the NL playoff chase, sitting double-digits back in both the race for the division and the NL Wild Card. Chicago, meanwhile, has taken a stranglehold on the second NL Wild Card berth, opening a big lead over the San Francisco Giants.
The Cubs took the first game of the series handily last night, with Anthony Rizzo blasting a grand slam and Addison Russell hitting two dingers en route to a 14-5 rout. The value won’t be great with Arrieta on the hill and the D-Backs slumping, but don’t expect anything other than another Cubs win tonight.
(Photo credit: bengrey on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)