LOS ANGELES -- When Jake Arrieta steps onto the Dodger Stadium mound to start Game 3 of the National League Championship Series for the Cubs, it will have been 416 days since he last left it pumping his fist as he headed for an embrace with his batterymate.It was there
LOS ANGELES -- When Jake Arrieta steps onto the Dodger Stadium mound to start Game 3 of the National League Championship Series for the Cubs, it will have been 416 days since he last left it pumping his fist as he headed for an embrace with his batterymate.
It was there in Chavez Ravine that Arrieta twirled his first career no-hitter, the 14th in franchise history. Arrieta capped that night with a memorable news conference in which he donned a onesie dotted with mustaches.
• NLCS Game 3: tonight at 8 ET/7 CT on FS1
Arrieta sat behind that podium once again on Monday, this time on the eve of his second career NLCS start, to speak about his opportunity to pitch the Cubs closer to their first World Series berth since 1945.
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"So, to be even here [in the series], we like our chances moving forward," Arrieta said. "Obviously, our lineup stacks up just about as good as anybody's. We've got our health with us, which is great. We like playing in this park, and tomorrow's going to be a battle."
With a split of the first two games at Wrigley Field, Game 3 sets up to be a pivotal one. In LCS history, teams that have taken a 2-1 series lead have gone on to advance to the World Series 51 of 68 times.
As many as six Dodgers hitters who were no-hit by Arrieta on Aug. 30, 2015, could face him again in Game 3. The Dodgers didn't fare much better when they faced him this past May, either, as Arrieta threw seven scoreless innings in a no-decision.
It was one of five starts Arrieta made this year in which he finished at least seven innings, did not allow a run and gave up two or fewer hits.
"We know he's tough," said Dodgers infielder Chase Utley, hitless in 13 career at-bats against Arrieta. "He's got electric stuff. For every good pitcher, you try to capitalize on their mistakes. They all make mistakes, some more than others, and you have to try to be ready for those mistakes and try to take advantage of those."
Arrieta, a right-hander who grew up in Texas, has made himself right at home pitching in California since last year's no-hitter. Over four regular-season starts in the Golden State this season, Arrieta allowed one run on 11 hits in 30 innings. The Cubs won all four of those games.
Arrieta returned to California in the NL Division Series to face San Francisco and made his mark as much with his bat as he did with his arm. Arrieta crushed a three-run homer off Giants ace Madison Bumgarner before handing two of those runs back in a six-inning effort. A blown save by Aroldis Chapman later in the game left Arrieta with a no-decision.
The NL's reigning Cy Young Award winner has posted a 3.51 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP in four postseason appearances.
"I don't think Jake is cowered by any situation," manager Joe Maddon said. "We have a lot of confidence in him."
Those Dodgers hitters who faced Arrieta on that late summer night in 2015 haven't forgotten the outcome, nor has Arrieta forgotten the feeling he had upon striking out the side to etch his name into the franchise history books. It's a feeling he's hoping to replicate upon this return.
"Well, it's going to be a different game, different experiences all the way around," Arrieta said. "But, you know, I'll use some of the experience from my last time out here moving into [Tuesday]. You try to tackle them accordingly."
Jenifer Langosch has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2007.