BOSTON — The Fenway Park crowd sure knows how to show a worthy adversary some love.
Chicago Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta received a standing ovation Monday upon walking off the mound after nearly tossing a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox. It was interesting to see an opposing pitcher garner such an ovation, but it certainly was well-deserved given how well Arrieta pitched in the Cubs’ 2-0 win over the Red Sox.
“Something like that in Fenway is pretty rare for an opposing team so yeah, I got some goosebumps there and that’s kind of why you play this game — for moments like that,” Arrieta said after the game.
“I’m just very thankful to be a part of something like that and to get another win feels good.”
Arrieta nearly became the first pitcher to no-hit the Red Sox at Fenway Park since Jim Bunning accomplished the feat in 1958. Stephen Drew ended the bid with a two-out single in the bottom of the eighth inning.
“The tension kind of builds there as the fifth and sixth innings kind of approach and then it kind of subsides a little bit,” said Arrieta, who also took a perfect game into the seventh inning in his last start against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field. “The space around me (in the dugout) kind of increases, naturally. But yeah, another special night. It’s special to do it in this ballpark, to do something like this last week in Wrigley and then to do it here, in these two parks, is pretty special.”
Arrieta is in the midst of a special run for the Cubs. The right-hander has allowed two earned runs or fewer in six straight starts — he has a 0.92 ERA (four earned runs in 39 1/3 innings) in that stretch — and has struck out at least nine in four straight outings. That includes a 10-strikeout performance Monday in which Mike Napoli’s fifth-inning walk represented Boston’s only baserunner until Drew’s single.
“We knew he threw strikes, we knew he had a good cutter. He’s got front-of-the-line stuff,” Red Sox catcher David Ross said. “We weren’t taking him lightly. We knew coming in that this guy was pretty good.”
Arrieta tossed a career-high 120 pitches while blanking the Red Sox for 7 2/3 innings. It was a far cry from the 28-year-old’s days with the Baltimore Orioles, when Boston often made life difficult.
“Coming here is always special to me because I love Boston, the city is great, the park is amazing and the fans are great,” Arrieta said. “Even as an opposing player, I can still appreciate that — the interaction that the fans have from start to finish in every game. It’s just fun to be a part of.”
Arrieta was brilliant Monday. He was recognized for it by some of the most passionate fans in the world.