David Kohl / USA Today

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.

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.

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