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Breaking: Jake Arrieta throws 2nd no-no in 2 years. The two no hitters were only 9 starts apart, the third shortest span between no hitters ever. The Cubs beat the Reds 16-0 on the road.

Jake Arrieta’s No-Hitter

Jake Arrieta wasn’t even throwing his best stuff last night. The Chicago Cubs pitcher even said “it felt sloppy.” But sloppiness be damned. Arrieta threw the first no-hitter of the 2016 season, as the Cubs beat the Cincinnati Reds 16-0.

Arrieta’s catcher, David Ross, called him an “animal” Thursday night. And indeed that’s the way Arrieta has been performing lately. Over the past 16 starts, he has a 15-0 record, threw two no-hitters, and has an ERA of 0.53. He’s one of the best pitchers in the game right now, and well on his way to another historic year, after winning the National League Cy Young Award last season.

It was the 15th no-hitter in Cubs history. Arrieta is also the only player in Cubs history to throw a no-hitter two seasons in a row.

Winding up to throw his 119th pitch of the night, Arrieta popped up the Reds batter to right field to end the game. As Ross ran toward him, he kept yelling, “Thank you, thank you,” in Arrieta’s ear. This was the first no-hitter that Ross caught, one of his dreams fulfilled in his last season in the majors, the 39-year-old said.

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Despite the high pitch count going into the late innings, Manager Joe Maddon said he felt Arrieta could go for the no-hitter around the sixth inning. As to not get in Arrieta’s head, he didn’t warm any pitchers up, nor did he ask him how he was feeling.

“You never want to interfere with somebody’s greatness,” Maddon said. “And that’s really special for him and the organization to have another no-hitter being thrown. As a manager, you try to stay out of the way of those moments.”

Arrieta struck out six and walked four. This was the first time the Reds were no-hit in 7,109 regular season games—the longest streak in the league.

His dominant pitching actually overshadowed an impressive offensive game for the Cubs, as the team went yard five times, including a grand slam from Kris Bryant. Arrieta himself had two hits.

The Cubs, at 12-4, have the best record in baseball, giving Chicago fans unfamiliar—though admittedly uncomfortable—confidence in the team’s chances at winning a World Series for the first time since 1908.

In the era of testing for steroids, pitchers are once again dominating the game, harping back to the days before the MLB lowered the pitcher’s mound and the designated hitter was added. That, among other reasons, is why we’re more likely to see more no-hitters in recent years. Arrieta joins a small group of 28 pitchers, including Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax, that have multiple no-hitters in their careers.

That doesn’t take away from the specialness of Arrieta’s pitching last night. The odds of throwing a no-hitter is still 1 in 1,548, according to a 2012 post on the Minitab Blog.

Arrieta threw his last no-hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 2-0 win on August 30, 2015, one of only seven no-hitters across the league last season. Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals threw two no-hitters that year.

Read more from The Atlantic:

This article was originally published on The Atlantic.

Arrieta throws 2nd career no-hitter as Cubs beat Reds 16-0

CINCINNATI - Jake Arrieta’s first no-hitter set him apart. Pitching another one in the span of only 11 regular-season starts has put the Chicago Cubs ace in elite company.

And his catcher suspects that the reigning NL Cy Young winner has a few more of those no-hit moments left in him.

Arrieta overcame early sloppiness and bore down at the end, shutting down the Cincinnati Reds in a 16-0 rout on Thursday night that left everyone amazed except him.

After all, he’d done it before.

“It feels different the second time,” said Arrieta, who did his best pitching in the last few innings with the gem in reach. “I was a little more relaxed as the game progressed.”

Arrieta (4-0) struck out six, walked four and allowed only six balls hit out of the infield during the first no-hitter in Major League Baseball this season.

No spectacular plays were needed by Cubs fielders to preserve Arrieta’s performance. He threw 119 pitches, retiring Eugenio Suarez on a routine flyball to right field to end it.

Arrieta threw his first career no-hitter last Aug. 30 at Dodger Stadium, beating Los Angeles 2-0. That game came as Arrieta put together one of the best pitching stretches in club history — he’s 15-0 in his last 16 regular-season starts.

“What can I say?” manager Joe Maddon said. “Man, it was spectacular.”

The Reds hadn’t been held hitless in a regular-season game since 1971, when Rick Wise did it for Philadelphia at Riverfront Stadium. In the 2010 NL playoffs, Roy Halladay of the Phillies pitched a no-hitter against Cincinnati.

“We got dominated,” Reds outfielder Jay Bruce said. “That’s the most dominating game I’ve ever been a part of. He was great; we weren’t.

"Every time he goes out there, he’s got no-hit stuff. He’s arguably the best pitcher in the game today.”

Arrieta is among several pitchers in the last decade to pitch two no-hitters. The 30-year-old righty is on the list with Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Tim Lincecum and Homer Bailey, who threw the only other no-hitter at Great American Ball Park on July 2, 2013, against the Giants.

“I feel like I didn’t do a whole lot,” said David Ross, who caught his first no-hitter. “That animal was in control the whole time. He locked it in when he needed to.

"He’s got the capability of doing that every night out.”

At 39, Ross has already announced this will be his final season. Arrieta said it was exciting to let Ross have this thrill.

Arrieta is the first Cubs pitcher to win his first four starts in a season since Greg Maddux went 5-0 in 2006. Ken Holtzman is the only other Cubs pitcher to throw more than one no-hitter in the modern era, doing it in 1969 and 1971.

Kris Bryant homered twice, including a grand slam, and drove in six runs. Arrieta contributed a pair of singles and a walk as the Cubs pulled away.

The 16-run margin approached the most-lopsided victory in major league history. In 1884, Pud Galvin and Buffalo beat the Detroit Wolverines 18-0 in the National League, STATS said.

By Arrieta’s standards, it was a bit of a struggle. He walked three batters — he’d allowed only two walks in his first three starts combined — and needed 85 pitches to get through six innings. After that, he dug in and made quick work of the Reds’ lineup.

“In the sixth, I knew it was going to be a possibility for me,” Arrieta said.

The thousands of Cubs fans in the crowd of 16,497 were on their feet cheering as Arrieta walked Scott Schebler to open the ninth, got pinch-hitter Tucker Barnhart on a popup, Zack Cozart on a fly to centre and Suarez on an easy fly.

Arrieta and Ross embraced halfway between home plate and the mound as the rest of the Cubs circled around him.

In September 2014, Arrieta lost a no-hit bid against the Reds on Brandon Phillips’ one-out double in the eighth at Wrigley Field.

This time, the offence made the outcome a moot point while extending the Cubs’ best start since 1970 at 12-4.

Bryant hit a two-run shot in the first off Brandon Finnegan (1-1), and his third career grand slam in the seventh off Drew Hayes made it 13-0. Ben Zobrist and Ross added solo shots, and Anthony Rizzo had a three-run homer.

As the Cubs made it a romp, there was only one question left: How far could Arrieta go? He gave himself a chance by getting through the seventh and eighth innings on only 18 pitches, bearing down against an overmatched lineup.

Finnegan started at Wrigley Field on April 11 and didn’t allow a hit until Ross singled with two outs in the seventh. They were ready for the left-hander this time. Dexter Fowler doubled off the wall in centre on Finnegan’s first pitch of the game, and Bryant’s homer made it 2-0.

ARRIETA’S SURGE

Arrieta added to his club-record of 24 consecutive quality starts since June 21, going 20-1. He’s 15-0 in 16 starts since August 1 of last season, allowing a total of seven earned runs.

BEATING THE REDS

The Cubs have won their last five games in Cincinnati, the first time they’ve done that since the 1972-73 seasons.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Reds: CF Billy Hamilton was out of the lineup with a sore left thumb, injured when he hit his glove while trying for a catch in St. Louis last weekend. He aggravated it on Wednesday and will be sidelined a couple of days.

UP NEXT

Cubs: LH Jon Lester (1-1) is 1-0 in five career starts against the Reds with a 3.82 ERA.

Reds: Jon Moscot (0-0) makes his second start. He came off the DL on Sunday and received no decision in a 4-3 loss at St. Louis, giving up six hits and three runs in 5 2/3 innings.

___

Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay

Sunday's MLB rundown: Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward have Cubs rolling early

Yeah, we know, it’s April. It’s way too early to start talking World Series favorites, MVP hopefuls, etc. Yet, when the Chicago Cubs beat up on the Cincinnati Reds in a 9-0 shutout Sunday, we saw a glimpse of just how good this young team can be.

Cubs star first baseman Anthony Rizzo could be in the MVP discussion at the end of the year — if Bryce Harper doesn’t run away with it by June — and Rizzo backed up his claim Sunday by smashing two two-run home runs. Outfield acquisition Jason Heyward also put on a show. He went 3 for 5 with a run scored, three RBI and a stolen base.

MORE: Giancarlo Stanton blasts BP home run out of AT&T

But everyone knows the postseason is all about pitching. Do the Cubs have what it takes in that department? So far, it looks like they do. We were already aware of what Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester could do, but Jason Hammel is off to an incredible start as well.

Hammel tossed six scoreless innings Sunday while giving up just three hits and striking out seven. He improved to 3-0 on the season with a 0.75 ERA.

Player of the Day:

Nationals outfielder Chris Heisey did everyone a favor when he mercifully ended a 16-inning marathon against the Twins. After Harper hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to send the game into extras at 4-4, both the Nationals and Twins struggled for runs. But after both teams scored in the 15th inning, Heisey ended things with a solo home run to lead things off in the bottom of the 16th inning. Washington’s 6-5 win ultimately tied a franchise record for longest game played.

Highlight:

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria laid out in the hot corner to make an incredible play:

Stay away from @Evan3Longoria’s corner. https://t.co/KdSnvetfw3 pic.twitter.com/7dOhLBJxcf

— MLB GIFS (@MLBGIFs)

April 24, 2016

Three things to know:

— Albert Pujols’ first-inning home run off of Wade Miley snapped an 0-for-26 streak, the longest hitless streak of his career. It was also his 563rd career HR, which tied Reggie Jackson for 13th all-time.

— The Chicago Cubs (14-5) are the only team in MLB not to lose consecutive games so far this season. They also have failed to win more than two games in a row since April.

— Bryce Harper, who hit a pinch-hit, game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Minnesota Twins, became the only player with a game-tying or go-ahead home run in the ninth inning or later in each of the last five seasons.

What’s Next:

White Sox (13-6) at Blue Jays (10-10) 7:07 p.m. — The AL’s top team has been finding ways to win despite limited production from some of its stars. Blue Jays ace Marcus Stroman (3-0, 4.13 ERA) will look to rebound after a few shaky starts.

Orioles (11-6) at Rays (8-10) 7:10 p.m. — Kevin Gausman, one of Baltimore’s best young pitchers, makes his season debut against Chris Archer (0-4, 7.32 ERA). Archer entered the season as a Cy Young candidate, but has already lost that race by blowing up in his first four starts with diminished arm strength. He needs to turn things around in a hurry.

Arrieta throws 2nd career no-hitter as Cubs beat Reds 16-0

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Arrieta throws 2nd career no-hitter as Cubs beat Reds 16-0

“I was a little more relaxed as the game progressed.” “Arrieta (4-0) struck out six, walked four and allowed only six balls hit out of the infield during the first no-hitter in Major League Baseball this season.No spectacular plays were needed by Cubs fielders to preserve Arrieta’s performance. He threw 119 pitches, retiring Eugenio Suarez on a routine flyball to right field to end it.Arrieta threw his first career no-hitter last Aug. 30 at Dodger Stadium, beating Los Angeles 2-0.

The Reds hadn’t been held hitless in a regular-season game since 1971, when Rick Wise did it for Philadelphia at Riverfront Stadium. In the 2010 NL playoffs, Roy Halladay of the Phillies pitched a no-hitter against Cincinnati.

Joe Maddon

He gave himself a chance by getting through the seventh and eighth innings on only 18 pitches, bearing down against an overmatched lineup.Finnegan started at Wrigley Field on April 11 and didn’t allow a hit until Ross singled with two outs in the seventh. They were ready for the left-hander this time.

Every time he goes out there, he’s got no-hit stuff. He’s arguably the best pitcher in the game today.

Jake Arrieta

I just remembered that the Cardinals beat the Cubs today. Now I feel a little better… or maybe that’s the NyQuil. I’ll have to remember this tomorrow, no matter how crazy things get on here I’ll always have baseball. I just love baseball.