From college walk-on to major-league starter, Chicago Cubs right-hander Alec Mills had to earn most every break he got.
On the brink of big-league history, he was happy to welcome this bit of luck: expecting to see two-time batting champion Christian Yelich in the on-deck circle, Mills looked over and saw his backup instead.
“That kind of surprised me,” he said.
This one surprised just about everyone.
Mills cruised through baseball’s second no-hitter this season in just the 15th start of his career, completing the gem in a 12-0 romp over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.
Mills got Jace Peterson — who replaced Yelich, the 2018 National League’s Most Valuable Player, on defence late in the blowout — to hit a routine grounder to shortstop Javier Baez with two outs in the ninth. Baez completed the play and the Cubs swarmed around Mills, tearing off his cap and pulling at the smiling right-hander’s uniform after his first career complete game.
“It just hasn’t really hit me yet,” the 28-year-old said. “It’s kind of crazy, I didn’t even know how to celebrate. Just something that all came together today. Obviously a memory I’ll have forever.”
Mills (5-3) threw 114 pitches and hardly had any close calls in Chicago’s 16th no-hitter. Avisail Garcia almost got to him twice, hitting a line drive to right in the first and nearly legging out an infield hit to shortstop in the sixth. Garcia crossed first and immediately called to the Brewers dugout for a review, but after a very brief stoppage, the Brewers opted not to challenge.
Mills would have faced Garcia again in the ninth, but Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell pulled the 2017 all-star along with Yelich in the eighth with his team trailing big. Mills struck out Garcia’s replacement, Tyrone Taylor, for the second out in the ninth.
Mills struck out five and walked three. His five strikeouts are the fewest in a Cubs no-hitter since Ken Holtzman in 1969. He only induced five swings and misses, tied with Oakland’s Dallas Braden during his perfect game in 2010 for fewest in a no-hitter since at least 1988, per Stats Inc.
Ryu wins fourth straight decision
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. hit a home run completely out of Sahlen Field and Hyun-jin Ryu made the early lead stand up, winning his fourth straight decision as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the New York Mets 7-3 on Sunday. Santiago Espinal hit a three-run double in a five-run sixth inning as the Blue Jays remained a half-game ahead of the New York Yankees for second place in the AL East. Toronto is 3 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay for the division lead. The Blue Jays won the final two games of their series against the Mets after getting routed 18-1 in Friday night’s opener. New York dropped five games below .500 and remains out of the NL playoff field. Ryu (4-1) allowed one run and eight hits in six innings, struck out seven and walked none. The left-hander retired his final eight batters, fanning four. He has not lost since July 30 against Washington, his second start of the season.