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The Thursday Takeaway
The Cubs are good. Jake Arrieta is good. These are indisputable facts. The Cubs have a roster from Hell, and Arrieta has killer stuff from Hell.

The Reds are not good. They are in the process of rebuilding, and as such their roster largely resembles a collection of Triple-A players, has-beens, Rasiel Iglesias, and Joey Votto.

This all helps explain what happened on Thursday night at the Great American Ballpark. Not only did the Cubs score 16 runs and generally disintegrate the Cincinnati pitching staff, but Arrieta threw his second no-hitter in his past 11 regular season starts.

Mixing these two teams with Arrieta on the mound was like combining vinegar and baking soda. Very, very bad things happened. The heavens themselves opened up, angels descended from the sky, and righteous fire fell upon the Reds. This was the Cubs in their most perfect form. Every gear turned, every ball demolished. Only four Reds batters reached base, all on walks issued by Arrieta.

We should not expect the Cubs to lay down the hurt every single time that they face a bad team. It seems like just yesterday that starter Brandon Finnegan took a no-hitter of his own deep into a game at Wrigley Field, after all. But on a day where the Cubs combined for 18 hits, including two from Arrieta himself, it was thrilling to observe what may be the most one-sided game of the entire season.

Until, of course, Noah Syndergaard strikes out all 27 batters and hits a home run. This is an event that will happen at some point this season. For more on Arrieta’s gem, Rian Watt has got you.

Quick Hits
The phrase “Brilliant evil devil magician pitcher” can be applied to approximately three people. One is Mariano Rivera, who is now retired. The second is Bartolo Colon for obvious reasons. The third is Clayton Kershaw.

Kershaw throws a curveball that’s occasionally heinous enough to earn a nickname from Vin Scully, which is the baseball equivalent of getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is easily the most dominant pitcher of the past five years. A mixture of devastating movement, endurance and more-than-adequate velocity has enabled Kershaw to win three Cy Young Awards and an MVP. And, for a few hours, we all got to think he threw an eephus.

Alas, it was an accident,

which just sort of proves the point: Even Clayton Kershaw's accidents are super cool.

***

Regret. It is one of the most visceral of all human emotions and grows all the more potent when mixed with a sizable dose of guilt. It eats at the soul and turns even the strongest of us into bleary-eyed children. These experiences always stick with us for longer than we would like. More likely than not, this is precisely how Cody Allen felt when he surrendered a three-run blast to Robinson Cano in the 10th inning.

Oh boy. A fastball right over the heart of the plate is the most delectable of treats for a slugger of Cano’s quality. Let’s get a closer look.

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 1.49.46 AM.png

RIght there. That might be the very moment that Allen knew he had made a huge mistake. Seattle would go win the game 10-7 thanks to that home run. Get ‘em next time, Cody.

***

Mike Trout entered Thursday’s game with the White Sox hitting only .259/.359/.370. That’s not exactly earth-shatteringly bad, but it’s certainly not Trout levels of offense. What’s wrong with Mike Trout? Has Bryce Harper stolen his mojo? Did Trevor Story? Are the Angels just so bad that Trout’s bat is withering on the vine, dreaming of a playoff run? Is this the end for our valliant hero?

No, he’s fine. This may be John Danks, he of the season 1.56 HR/9, serving up hanger. But Trout hit that ball 440 feet. The ball could not be reached for comment on Trout’s supposed loss of offensive skills, as the ball is dead. Dead things do not speak.

Trout is now hitting .286/.397/.446. Mike Trout is one of, if not the best player in baseball. He will be okay.

Defensive Plays of the Day
The Yankees have lost seven of their last nine games and have managed to score four runs only one time in that stretch. The Yankees are 5 for their last 61 with runners in scoring position. To make up for the lack of offense, Aaron Hicks has been supplying highlight reel plays. Yesterday, he threw an 105.5 mph bullet to home plate. Today, he did this.

That Aaron Hicks. He sure can play some outfield. Speaking of outfielders, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Alex Gordon’s mad dash to catch a Justin Upton fly ball.

Pay your defenders, teams.

What to Watch on Friday
Oakland will now ship out to Toronto, where Sonny Gray will take on Aaron Sanchez. Sanchez has been surprisingly effective (0.85 WHIP) and Gray is Gray, so that should be a fun watch. Also, it’s been rumored that the Blue Jays have a tendency to hit dingers. Crazy talk, that.

Martin Perez and the Rangers will be taking on Jose Quintana and the White Sox in Chicago, and King Felix Hernandez will take his new low-velo stylings to Anaheim. Quintana is one of the more pitchers in baseball to watch, and it will be fascinating to see how a newly awoken Trout responds to Hernandez no longer throwing gas. Did we mention dingers? Dingers are good.

Thank you for reading

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oldbopper
4/22
Pitch FX said that the 0-2 that curve Arrieta threw to Suarez with 2 out in the 9th was in the zone? It looked that way on TV. You could see Arrieta react after DeMuth froze. It would have been a tragedy(mini) if Suarez got a hit after that.