No-no clue: Cubs relievers were unaware they were combining for no-hitter

Craig Kimbrel found out after the final out he had completed a no-hitter.
By , 670 The Score

(670 The Score) Cubs reliever Ryan Tepera wondered why catcher Willson Contreras kept calling for a slider on a 3-0 pitch.

Tepera was looking to protect a 4-0 lead in the seventh inning Thursday night against the Dodgers and trying to avoid a four-pitch walk of shortstop. Tepera threw the slider after twice shaking his head no to the pitch, missing the strike zone to walk Lux.

Tepera finished out the seventh inning and returned to the visiting dugout to find out Contreras was simply trying to call a no-hitter, which the Cubs finished out in a combined effort from starter Zach Davies, Tepera, left-hander Andrew Chafin and closer Craig Kimbrel.

None of those pitchers realized in the moment they were working in a no-hitter, the 17th in franchise history and their first combined effort.

"When Willy gave a big fist bump, I knew something was up," Kimbrel said after the Cubs' 4-0 victory over the Dodgers. "And then Tep ran out there and whispered in my ear; he's like, 'You had no idea what happened.' And then Javy (Baez) put me in a headlock. I knew pretty fast what just happened.

"Had no clue when I came into the game that we had a no-hitter."

The no-hitter marked the Cubs' first since Sept. 13, 2020, when right-hander Alec Mills pitched a no-hitter in Milwaukee.

Davies worked six no-hit innings but allowed five walks over 94 pitches. Cubs manager David Ross elected to pinch-hit for Davies in the top of the seventh inning, seeking to push insurance runs across the plate while conceding his pitch count was too high to go the distance on his own.

"It worked. ... I can't complain at all," Davies said.

Instead, Ross employed the Cubs' back end of the bullpen, with Tepera, Chafin and Kimbrel each allowing one walk but no hit during their respective innings of relief work. They also shared in common being blissfully unaware of the no-hit effort.

The visiting bullpen of Dodger Stadium is tucked far into the right field corner with poor sightlines. Fans in the bleachers have a far better perspective of the game than the Cubs' relievers did on Thursday night. The scoreboards are almost completely out of view. Given that Davies had walked five Dodgers over his six innings of work, the Cubs' bullpen figured at least one reached on a hit.

Chafin found out after returning to the dugout and finding a television monitor that was revisiting no-hitters. That's when he realized.

"Oh, s―," Chafin said.

Ross said that Kimbrel would not have been called upon to protect an ordinary 4-0 lead in a ninth inning but this became an extraorindary game. Still, Kimbrel did not know what he was pitching to accomplish in the ninth inning.

Kimbrel walked Chris Taylor to lead off the ninth inning before striking out Cody Bellinger, Albert Pujols and Will Smith to complete the no-hitter.

"To make history like that as a baseball player," Tepera said. "It's all you can really ask for."

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.

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