The Chicago Cubs threw their first combined no-hitter in franchise history as four pitchers shut down the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-0 on Thursday night.
It’s the seventh no-hitter in baseball this season, the most ever before July 1 and tied for the most in a season since 1900, when the modern era began.
The twist on Thursday night’s no-hitter is that the three relievers who finished the game, after starter Zach Davies came out after six innings, didn’t know the Dodgers were hitless until after they pitched.
“The whole bullpen had no idea,” lefty Andrew Chafin said afterward. “It was completely oblivious. In our defense, from that bullpen, our perspective on the field, all we can see is like batting averages and the count and stuff like that.”
Davies pitched the first six innings without giving up a hit but was pulled for a pinch hitter in the top of the seventh inning after 94 pitches. His pitch count was simply too high to complete what he started, manager David Ross said.
“The hard part is taking out a guy that hasn’t given up a hit,” Ross said. “I didn’t see him going nine for sure.”
Righty Ryan Tepera pitched a clean seventh inning before Chafin did the same in the eighth. After walking the leadoff hitter in the ninth, closer Craig Kimbrel finished off the 17th no-hitter in Cubs’ history, striking out Cody Bellinger, Albert Pujols and pinch hitter Will Smith.
Kimbrel also didn’t know what the Cubs just accomplished.
“When Willy gave a big fist pump I knew something was up,” Kimbrel said, referring to catcher Willson Contreras. “Then Tepera ran out there and whispered in my ear and was like, ‘You have no idea what happened.’ Then Javy [Javier Baez] put me in a headlock, and I knew pretty fast what happened.”
The Cubs walked eight batters, the most walks in a no-hitter since the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Edwin Jackson walked eight in a 149-pitch no-hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2010.
Kimbrel said the number of walks contributed to the confusion in the bullpen.
“There was a lot of traffic on the bases,” Kimbrel said. “When there’s a lot of traffic on the bases you don’t assume they’re all walks. You kind of figure one of them is a single or something like that.”
Davies went into the game with a 4.66 ERA and 1.49 WHIP. He walked five batters in the first four innings but stranded them all. He set the Dodgers down in order over his final two innings.
Baez and Contreras provided the offense for the Cubs, as they both took Dodgers starter Walker Buehler deep. The Cubs handed Buehler his first loss since Sept. 21, 2019.
The Dodgers were no-hit for the 20th time in franchise history, the most in major league history. It’s the sixth time in the past 50 years a defending World Series champion has been no-hit. It’s the first time the Dodgers were no-hit since the Cubs did it to them in 2015 with Jake Arrieta on the mound. He starts against them on Friday.
Tepera was asked if perhaps it was a good thing none of the relievers knew what was at stake.
“It’s hard to say, but yeah,” he said. “It worked out for the best.”
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