BOSTON -- This was not the same Jake Arrieta who took the mound at Fenway Park on April 10, 2013.
In that start the then Baltimore righty helped the Orioles beat the Red Sox 8-5, but he was mediocre at best: 5.0 innings, 3 runs, 4 walks, 2 strikeouts.
No, Monday night's Jake Arrieta was someone different. A year and 81 days after his last start against the Red Sox, he appeared to be completely re-born in a 2-0 win over Boston.
In perhaps the most dominating performance by any pitcher against the Red Sox this season, the Cubs starter tossed a no-hitter for 7.2 innings and struck out 10. He walked just one.
"He located everything," said Dustin Pedroia, who struck out twice. "He's got great stuff. His cutter was down in the zone. His four-seam, he elevated it. His curveball -- he kept every pitch out of the zone. I had three at-bats, I don't think I got one good pitch to hit. Just gotta tip your hat."
David Ross had seen Arrieta back in 2011 when Ross was a member of the Braves. In those two at-bats the catcher was 2-for-2, with a home run and four RBI. He went 0-for-2 with a strikeout on Monday.
Ross thought that Arrieta had perhaps benefited from a move on the rubber, shifting over to the third-base side to create a more difficult sight line for righthanded hitters.
"He's deceptive," Ross said. "He's throwing from the third-base side of the rubber and kind of across his body so for righties, with his cutter moving at like 90-91 [mph], some serious depth and then he was locating his fastball, and then he had a breaking ball to go with it. To me, I can only speak for my at-bats, but he's a really good pitcher. There's a reason he's got a low ERA, I think he's figured some things out. I've faced him before and he's definitely improved."
Ross added: "Definitely a different pitcher. He may have moved sides of the rubber, I'd have to check the video to see that. I just remember seeing his ball a lot better [in 2011] than I did today. It was definitely across. It felt almost like he was throwing behind me. And locating down and away. That's really tough to do. You ask any pitcher, it's probably one of the hardest things to do."
Even the recently indomitable Brock Holt, the Red Sox' surging leadoff man who came into Monday having reached first base in 16 of his last 17 games, couldn't figure things out at the plate. He thought Arrieta was the toughest matchup the team has seen this season.
"Yeah I think so since I've been here," Holt said. "He had everything going for him. We couldn't square him up. Throwing a lot of strikes. Throwing everything for strikes. Not missing. Picking the corners. He threw the ball well."
Though Arrieta had never showed the kind of untouchable stuff he had on Monday while with the O's from 2010 until mid-June of last year, the Red Sox knew going into the game that they'd be up against one of the game's hottest pitchers.
He took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his last start against the Reds, and after Monday's outing he now has an ERA of 0.92 with 48 strikeouts and six walks in the month of June.
"We knew he threw strikes," Ross said. "We knew he had a good cutter. He's got front-of-the-line stuff. We weren't taking him lightly. We knew this guy was pretty good."
"We acknowledge he's come in throwing the ball well," Sox manager John Farrell said. "We've seen him before when he was with Baltimore prior to the trade over to Chicago. We were well aware of his ability, the type of pitches that he does have. But when he combined the three-pitch mix with the command, there's a reason he's been on a roll as he has."
Arrieta was so good that he actually garnered a standing ovation from the 37,814 (many of them Cubs fans) in attendance at Fenway Park.
Even Red Sox starter Jake Peavy took note of the moment, which included Arrieta tipping his hat to the crowd in acknowledgement of their appreciation.
"It's always good for your fans to acknowledge a great performance," Peavy said. "It's just hard to enjoy that when you're on the wrong end of it."
The Red Sox finished the game with two hits: Stephen Drew broke up the no-hit bid in the eighth inning with a sharp single to right field, and AJ Pierzynski hit a pinch-hit single to lead off the ninth. Mike Napoli broke up Arrieta's perfect game in the fifth inning with a walk.
For the Farrell's bunch, what makes their downtrodden offensive performance tougher to swallow is that they showed signs of life at the plate in taking two out of three from the Yankees in the Bronx over the weekend.
Their inability to sustain that part of the game is one that gave Arrieta's uniquely impressive performance a familiarly vexing feel.
"Anything we seemingly start to put together a couple of quality performances back-to-back it's been difficult to extend," Farrell said. "You can't pinpoint any one reason, but still, it is a little frustrating particularly where we are with our record, or status, or place where we are in the division. [We're] trying to get some momentum going. But you credit a solid performance tonight."