Two years ago today, with the Major League Baseball plowing through its bizarre, fan-less, pandemic-shortened season, something wild happened: Chicago Cubs righty Alec Mills threw a no-hitter.
Mills, a pitch-to-contact, control and command guy, is not the type you’d expect to throw a no-hitter. So that alone made it a lovely oddity. But combine it with the pandemic circumstances – plus the fact that it was only the second no-hitter ever in Milwaukee, both by Cubs pitchers – and it was a performance and a day that we Cubs fans will always remember.
Looking back on the special game two years later, Marquee’s Andy Martinez reached out to the guys on the field that day about their memories. It makes for a very nice read today:
A fun anecdote there on pulling veterans in a blowout, and Jason Heyward’s refusal to sit:
In the 6th inning, the game was well in hand, with the Cubs leading 9-0. So, Ross was planning on getting some of his players some rest as they geared up for the stretch run of the season and the playoffs.
Jason Heyward was one of the leading candidates for Ross to get off his feet. Heyward was having a strong season, posting a .947 OPS and having played in 40 of the team’s 48 games up to that point.
“I talked to J-Hey and was gonna get him off his feet cause we were blowing ‘em out and he was like, ‘I’m not coming out of this game until Millsy comes out of this game,’” Ross said. “That’s J-Hey’s heart. He’s such a good teammate. That was like, ‘alright, these boys are in it so let’s just go.’”
And a little from Mills, himself, on how he tries not to big time it:
Mills admitted he’s “pretty modest”, so he’s not one to bring up the moment with teammates or friends too often.
“I mean every once in a while, I’ll drop something just to be that guy,” Mills said with a smile.
He’s well within his rights. Some of the game’s greatest pitchers have never done what Mills accomplished.
“It’s funny, people always claim, ‘luckiest no-hitter, blah, blah, blah,’” Mills said. “I don’t care. You still threw a no-hitter.”
That’s exactly the right attitude. No one can take it away from Mills, no matter what the precise contours of the game, or whatever has happened in the ensuing two years. Alec Mills threw a no-hitter in the big leagues. That’s cool as heck.
As for the Mills of today, we know that it’s been a forgettable and injury-filled season for the 30-year-old righty. The one for which he’s currently designated on the 60-day IL is a back injury, and there hasn’t been any talk of him returning this season. Unfortunately he’s managed just 17.2 big league innings this season, and, as an arbitration-eligible pitcher in a crowded roster situation, it is possible this is his final season with the Cubs.
Again, though, he’ll always be part of the organization’s history, and we’ll remember what happened in Milwaukee in September 2020.