MLB history has seen some unlikely no-hitters, but I'm not sure it has ever seen one like the one Carlos Zambrano just threw against the Astros in a 5-0 victory. Not only did Big Z's no-no come 12 days after he last pitched and 10 days after he scared Cubs fans by hopping into the MRI machine with rotator cuff soreness, but it happened at Milwaukee's Miller Park, where the Cubs were making up a Hurricane Ike-postponed game with Houston.
If you're a Cubs fan, Zambrano's performance has to throw a little confidence in your step after both he and Rich Harden provided plenty of doubts in the previous 10 days or so. Zambrano had the type of untouchable stuff he can often throw, striking out 10 while walking one and allowing only one Astro — David Newhan hit a hard line drive to Derrek Lee in the fifth — to come close to playing the role of spoiler. Suddenly Zambrano seems like a no-brainer to start the first game of the playoffs.
Meanwhile, if you're an Astros fan, you have plenty of ammo to aim at Major League Baseball for scheduling an Astros' "home game" 90 miles away from their home of the opponent (and 1,174 miles away from Houston.) The crowd at Miller Park was announced at 23,441 and if there were more than five Astros fans in attendance, it would have been the upset of the day. The Astros are now two games behind Milwaukee and Philadelphia in the NL wild card race.
It's the second unlikely no-hitter of the season, considering cancer survivor Jon Lester threw one at Fenway back in May. It's also the first in Cubs' history since Milt Pappas threw one against the Padres on Sept. 2, 1972.
Check back on the Stew on Monday for more coverage and reaction.
(Is it safe to say the Cubs' bandwagon has once again taken off and is back at cruising altitude?)