'That's a special night for our group': Four Cubs pitchers combine to no-hit Dodgers
When Zach Davies walked four Dodgers in the first three innings, it didn't look like he'd be on the mound very long Thursday night.
But Davies settled down and made it through 6 hitless innings on 94 pitchers. Cubs manager David Ross pinch hit for Davies in the top of the seventh, then the Cubs bullpen did the rest, as usual.
Davies, Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin and Craig Kimbrel threw a combined no-hitter as the Cubs beat the Dodgers 4-0 to open a four-game series in Los Angeles.
It's the first combined no-hitter in Cubs history, but, oddly enough, there have been two four-pitcher no-hitters in their minor league system this season.
"I don't know that I've been as nervous in a long time with a 4-0 lead and two outs with Craig Kimbrel on the mound as I was tonight," Ross said. "That's a special night for our group. That's a really good team over there and this is a special moment I won't forget."
Tepera and Chafin each walked a batter but got out of the seventh and eighth innings, respectively. Kimbrel came on in the ninth and started by walking Chris Taylor on four pitches. But then he struck out Cody Bellinger, Albert Pujols and pinch hitter Will Smith, all swinging, to complete the 17th no-hitter in franchise history.
Cubs pitchers finished with 8 walks, but there was really nothing that was close to being a basehit. There were several soft line drives to the infield, one first-to-short double play, 7 strikeouts and 6 groundball outs.
The Cubs' defensive highlight was Willson Contreras picking Mookie Betts off first base in the third inning.
After the game, Ross said he was planning to send Davies back to the mound for the seventh inning but changed his mind when the Cubs put runners on base.
"I think every pitcher wants to continue in the game," Davies said. "Regardless of the pitch count. It worked. Seven, eight, nine after I came out of the game, Chafe, Tep and Craig shut the door.
"Again, a part of history. So I'm happy. I'm excited for the rest of the guys too that were on the field. I can't complain at all."
The Cubs held the lead the whole way after Javy Baez launched a home run to center in the top of the first inning. Contreras added a 2-run shot in the sixth. Both homers came off Dodgers starter Walker Buehler, who had gone 23 consecutive outings without taking a loss, dating back to Sept. 21, 2019.
The Cubs added a fourth run in the seventh when Jake Marisnick, hitting for Davies, delivered an RBI single to score Jason Heyward from third.
One humorous sidebar to this one was Kimbrel and Chafin saying they had no idea there was a no-hitter going on until their inning was over. Kimbrel said he was so focused on doing his job, he didn't realize the situation until his teammates rushed onto the field.
"The whole bullpen had no idea, completely oblivious," Chafin said. "But in our defense, I've got to say this though, from that bullpen, our perspective of the field, all we can see is batting averages, the count and outs and stuff like that. We couldn't see the scoreboard with the linescore at the bottom."
Chafin said he finally put two and two together when he got back in the dugout and saw a graphic on a TV screen that there already had been six no-hitters in MLB this season.
When he said something out loud, the people closest to him, turned and walked away, because talking about a no-hitter in the dugout is supposedly taboo in baseball.
"I think everybody is trying to stay focused and do their job," Ross said. "Tep knew, I know that. I think we are routine-oriented, and we keep our head down and focus on the task at hand.
"You look up at the end and this is what can happen. I think the season can be like that, you just keep your head down and keep focusing on doing your job and winning and getting better and focus on competing."
The Cubs used four pitchers, but just one catcher, so Ross made sure to credit Contreras.
"He grinded his tail off back there tonight, calling the game," Ross said. "That's a big night for him, the home run. He should get a lot of credit, along with Zach and the bullpen. I know how that feels and that's a special moment for him. He's put in a lot of hard work on his game-calling and it showed."
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