The first pitcher to victimize the first-place Dodgers was Mike Fiers who was dealt by the Milwaukee Brewers at the non-waiver trade deadline and acquired by the Houston Astros. Having entered the game seeking his first career complete game, in his third start with his new club, the 30-year old Fiers would achieve so much more by the end of the night. Needing 134-pitches, Fiers got his first complete game and then some, striking out 10 batters and walking 3 while becoming the first pitcher to throw a no-no after being traded that season since Jim Bibby in 1973. It would be the Astros' first no-hitter since a combined no-no in 2003 against the Yankees in New York and first individual no-hitter since the late Darryl Kile stymied the Mets in the old Astrodome in 1993. The masterful outing which earned Fiers AL Player of the Week honors, was the 11th no-hitter in franchise history and first in the 16-year history of Houston's Minute Maid Park.
In what's been a remarkable season for the Astros who virtually opened the season in first place in the AL West and haven't looked back, Fiers' performance added to the excitement as Houston tries to hang onto its playoff spot with baseball entering its last full calendar month of the regular season.
On Sunday, however, the Dodgers fell victim to a whole different animal in Cubs righty Jake Arrieta. Unlike Fiers who's had an up and down season spent between two clubs, Arrieta has been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball since the All-Star break having logged 14 consecutive quality starts. And in Tinsletown, Arrieta took to the mound and delivered a performance fit for the Oscars. Having dominated the entire month of August, Arrieta showcased his best stuff yet on Sunday, striking out 12 Dodger hitters while allowing only two base runners all evening in the 2-0 victory. A walk and an error by Cubbies shortstop Starlin Castro would be the only blemish on an otherwise perfect night for the Chicago right-hander. For what it's worth, Arrieta, who boasts an ERA of 2.11 on the season, has held the opposition hit-less thru the first five innings in seven of his 18 starts in 2015. But on Sunday, he would go the distance by twirling the sixth no-hitter of the 2015 season and becoming the first Cubs pitcher to toss a no-hitter since Carlos Zambrano who made history by blanking the Astros in a game played at Milwaukee's Miller Park on September 14, 2008.
Heading into the ninth inning needing only three outs, Arrieta went out in style by striking out the side to put the finishing touches on his historic night as he improved to a perfect record of 6-0 in the month of August, while tallying his Major League-leading 17th win of the season which seems like a far cry from the forgetful seasons Arrieta spent with the Baltimore Orioles. And for the first time since 2008 the Chicago Cubs (74-55) are on the cusp of a playoff berth, currently holding the second NL Wild Card spot with a 5.5-game cushion on top of the defending-champion San Francisco Giants. A lot of that has to do with the impressive second half to the season Arrieta has been able to put together. If he can keep it up, don't be surprised if his name's in the final running for the NL Cy Young Award.
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