Have you ever seen perfection in a baseball game? An announced crowd of more than 28,000 witnessed something special through six innings last night at Wrigley Field as Jake Arrieta took a perfect game into the top of the seventh inning. He gave up no hits, no walks and his teammates committed no errors to help his cause against the Cincinnati Reds. The no hitter, and perfect game, was broken up in the top of the seventh with a single by Billy Hamilton.
Not everyone grasped what was happening early on. One Reds fan turned to the Cubs fans around him saying, “Do you realize Arrieta is throwing a no hitter?” The superstitious Cubs fans around him tried to hush him. It appeared he finally got it, suddenly sitting and watching the game very carefully. When Arietta was pulled in the eighth inning the Reds fan admitted that he did not realize there was a perfect game in the works when he tried to jinx the no hitter. Arrieta received a standing ovation when he left the game from both Cubs and Reds fans, though some Reds fans were cheering because Hamilton had broken up the perfect game.
While 13 Cubs have thrown no hitters, none has thrown a perfect game. The closest any Cubs pitcher has come to a perfect game was Milt Pappas on September 2, 1972, against the San Diego Padres. To this day, Pappas remains angry at Bruce Froemming for making a controversial ball four call on the 27th batter of the game, costing Pappas the perfect game, though he did record a no hitter. As recent as 2008, Pappas told Examiner.com that the ball was a strike and he should have had a perfect game.
The last Cubs pitcher to record a no hitter was Carlos Zambrano on September 14, 2008, against the Houston Astros in Milwaukee. Why Milwaukee? The game was moved to Milwaukee after a hurricane hit Houston and caused two make-up games to be played in Milwaukee. More than 23,000 fans, most of them Cubs fans, purchased last minute tickets and made the drive to Milwaukee to see history.
The last pitcher to throw a no hitter against the Cubs was Sandy Koufax on September 9, 1965, at Dodger Stadium. To top that off, Koufax threw one of those elusive perfect games. Since then, the Cubs’ no hit streak has climbed to 7,738 games, as of last night, the longest no-hit streak baseball history. If nothing else, that is one thing for Cubs fans to celebrate.