Arrieta's teammates 'proud,' 'excited' for righty
LOS ANGELES -- After Jake Arrieta struck out Chase Utley to complete his first career no-hitter, he had just a second to hug his catcher Miguel Montero before being mobbed by a wave of teammates on the infield grass as the Cubs beat the Dodgers, 2-0, on Sunday night.
"He was outstanding. I told him I'm proud of him," Montero said. "He worked his butt off and he works harder than anyone in the game. That's his reward right there. Hopefully more to come."
Arrieta cruised for much of the night, firing 80 strikes on 116 pitches. He allowed only two baserunners: one via an error on Starlin Castro in the third inning, and the other a walk to Jimmy Rollins in the sixth. As for Castro, he'll gladly take one for the team.
"If he gave up [another] hit, I'd tell him to switch it, but I'm more than happy to take the error," Castro said.
On the bench, the Cubs' dugout was full of typical baseball players -- most of whom are wary of potentinal jinxes while Arrieta worked his magic.
"I'd like to say no, but as a baseball player, yeah, I have to say, yeah [I believe in jinxes]," Tommy La Stella said. "It's tense. Everybody is thinking the same thing and no one really even says a word, not even to each other. You don't want to jinx it, you don't want to think about it too much. You just want him to go out there and do his thing."
Arrieta never showed signs of slowing and he finished on a high note by striking out the side in the ninth inning -- one each via fastball, curveball and slider. It was that kind of night as Arrieta had everything working to compile 12 strikeouts; after the game, Arrieta said he didn't even remember the final inning.
"He said it was going so fast he didn't realize it. I'm sure the adrenaline was going," Dan Haren said.
"My stomach started to turn over in the ninth, because it was so close," Jason Hammel said. "I tried to put myself in his position, and it was definitely stressful. I'm very excited for him."
There was some validation for Montero and Arrieta on Sunday night, a nationally televised game on ESPN, as Montero believes Arrieta was a snub on this summer's All-Star team. The numbers speak for themselves: Arrieta leads the Majors with 17 wins and his 2.11 ERA is second in the league, only behind the Dodgers' Zack Greinke.
"I was a little disappointed when he didn't make the All-Star team, because there aren't too many guys like him," Montero said. "But he kept his head up, kept grinding, and I'm proud of him, because a lot of guys would have been beat up on, 'Oh, why didn't I make it.' That's a perfect example today."