(670 The Score) Cubs right-hander Alec Mills may have been one of the least likely pitchers in all of baseball whom you'd expect to throw a no-hitter entering Sunday, but that’s exactly what he did in another example of what makes this game so special.
Mills authored the 16th no-hitter in franchise history as the Cubs blanked the Brewers, 12-0, at Miller Park. Prior to his gem, the 28-year-old Mills had never thrown a complete game in his MLB career, which dates back to 2016 but only included 27 appearances entering the day. In fact, Mills had just one complete game in his entire professional career dating back to 2012.
Mills struck out five and walked three. He had a 4.74 ERA entering the day, having started the season strong before struggling mightily and now regaining his strong form in his last two outings.
“I can promise you it wasn't a slow-heartbeat day,” Mills said. “I went to the locker room between the eighth and ninth innings and told some of the guys I had to take a lot of deep breaths. I had to calm myself down and go out and have a good mindset to attack.”
Before Mills made history, the last Cubs pitcher to throw a no-hitter was Jake Arrieta on April 21, 2016. Mills' no-hitter was the second one in Miller Park history. Ironically, the Cubs have thrown both, with Carlos Zambrano doing so in 2008 against the Astros in a game moved to Milwaukee due to a hurricane in the Houston area.
“The offense gave us a nice lead, so that is all we had to focus on,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “I was letting him roll. He was in control of the whole (day). You are very proud of him. I go back to the family dynamic a lot. When you see a young man going out there and having that kind of success and proving himself, you just feel really good that he is in a good space. When you get to make history, it's a special day for him and a special day for us.”
Mills is a contact pitcher in a power-pitcher era, topping out around 90 miles per hour on the radar gun. He was drafted by the Royals in the 22nd round in 2012, then traded to the Cubs in early 2017. Mills was asked what he would’ve thought if you told his younger self as a walk-on pitcher in college at Tennessee-Martin that he’d throw a no-hitter in the big leagues.
“I would have told them they were crazy,” Mills said. “I for sure would have told them that. The whole thing is kind of surreal how everything has happened. I wouldn't have changed anything. Being a walk-on made me who I am today. They gave me a chance there. Other teams have given me a chance. Now I just have to keep working. The lesson is to never give up. Some people will tell you you can’t do it. They may tell you you are not good enough, but that is just one person's opinion. Just keep working and persevere.”
The Cubs extended their lead over the Cardinals to four games in the NL Central race with the win, and it was Mills leading the way on a day he’ll never forget.
“In the first inning, his four-seamer was mainly out of the zone,” catcher Victor Caratini said. “We talked a little about it, and we decided to use the sinker and curveball more. He adjusted and started to give us the results as the game went on.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.