Hi friends. Here’s how I see baseball on this Sunday, September 13. A quiet Sunday suddenly became interesting when I got the word. The Cubs’ Alec Mills had a no-hitter on through 7 innings. I signed on in time for the last of the 8th. It was a 10-0 game then, and the final was 12-0 when Mills retired the Brewers 1, 2, 3 with nothing across. Jace Peterson grounded out to second to cinch the no-hitter. The White Sox Lucas Giolito fired a no-hitter on August 25, making this the first season that both the Cubs and White Sox have a no-hitter in the same season.
So, who is Alec Mills? For starters, he’s the first Cub to author a no-no since Jake Arrieta did it in early 2016 against the Reds. He’ll turn 29 at the end of November. He wasn’t a guaranteed star, not even as an amateur. He hails from Clarksville, Tennessee and was a walk-on at the University of Tennessee at Martin. In a state where Vanderbilt and University of Tennessee’s main campus in Knoxville rule baseball, Tennessee Martin isn’t the first school you’d think of to produce a big leaguer. Mills went from walk-on to ace of the Skyhawks’ staff in 3 years. Ace or not, he was a late draft choice. The money goes to the guys in the first 5 rounds. Mills was taken in the 22nd round by the Royals in 2012. Mills honed his game in places like Idaho Falls and Lexington, Kentucky. I’ve broadcast from Lexington, and it’ll never make my list of favorite ball parks. He made his MLB debut in 2016 after a call-up from AA. He was traded to the cubs early in 2017. It took him until late 2018 to get back to the bigs, and until this odd season of 2020 to be named a starting pitcher. As happens so often, one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity. The Cubs’ Jose Quintana was hurt as 2020 started, and Mills was tagged to join the rotation. This was his fifth win of this short season.
Today’s game was no contest after the Cubs stacked up 5 runs in the 4th and 4 more an inning later. Mills walked 3 men. There was a double play and the Brewers left the other two men on base. As the Brewers have 5 games coming in the next 3 days, Avisail Garcia and Christian Yelic were lifted when the game was clearly out of reach. Jace Peterson was batting in Yelic’s spot when he made the last out.
With all said and done, Mills fired 114 pitches, 74 of them strikes against a Brewers’ team that couldn’t touch him. While no modern Cubs’ pitcher with a no-hitter is a Hall of Famer, Mills still finds himself in fast company. Ken Holtzman and Jake Arrieta are Cubs with two no-hitters each. Others with names you might know are Milt Pappas and Burt Hooton. The first 6 North Side no-nos were between 1880 and 1915, before Wrigley Field opened for National League play. Then, no Cub would fire a no-hitter until 1955. In 1960, Don Cardwell became the first Cub to fire a no-no on TV. WGN had it, but Harry Caray was across the way in the Cardinals’ booth, as they were Cardwell’s victims that day. And one Cubs’ no-hitter before today happened at Miller Park. Carlos Zambrano no-hit the Astros in 2008. Owing to Hurricane Ike, the Astros had to look elsewhere for a game site. Wrigley Field was offered. They said no. The game was played in Milwaukee, not that it helped the Astros. Zambrano did then what Alec Mills did to the Brewers today. He pitched a no-hitter.