Cubs Insider

Cubs' Mills could be headed to IL with back strain again

Cubs Insider

Another day, another Cubs pitcher goes down.

And yet the Cubs managed to come out on top Saturday night, beating the Red Sox 3-1 to clinch their third consecutive series victory — fourth of their last five.

On the same day the Cubs said that sidelined pitchers Marcus Stroman and Drew Smyly were ready to start minor-league rehab assignments in the coming days, Saturday’s starter, Alec Mills, left the game after just two batters because of a lower back strain.

Whether it lands him on the injured list again, it didn’t look good Saturday.

“It was actually a couple pitches before. The strikeout was when I initially felt a little bit of something,” Mills said of the last pitch to leadoff man Jarren Duran. “And then obviously it didn’t get any better. I thought maybe I could get through it. Then it was really when I went to back up third [on Rafael Devers’ ensuing double] when I knew it was probably best to get out of the game and let somebody else take over.”

Mills opened the season on the injured list because of a low back strain. He later suffered a quad strain during the later stages of his rehab from the back injury, costing him a transfer to the 60-day IL.

He did not make his season debut until June 7 in Baltimore, in a five-inning relief appearance.

Whether this is the same thing, “We’re not sure right now,” Mills said. “It’s a very similar feeling. We’ll just see how I bounce back tomorrow, and we’ll figure it out.”


Mills said Saturday seemed like just a microcosm of his rough season.

“It feels like a collection of the season all came down to today,” he said. “We’ll see what happens and how I bounce back tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, Mark Leiter Jr. (2-2) got the short-notice relief assignment and pitched into the sixth, going 5 1/3 innings, striking out five, walking one and allowing just one run on three hits.

“That was impressive. Circumstances aside,” manager David Ross said. “Circumstances make it even better. But that was a big-time performance.”

The Cubs won a series for the third consecutive time for the second time this season. Their four-in-five series victories are especially impressive given some of the opponents, including the defending-champion Braves, the then-NL Central-leading Cardinals and a Red Sox team that went 20-6 in June and entered the series second to the Yankees in the AL East.

The head-scratcher, if not a sign of why they’re still 14 games under .500 and headed for a trade-deadline selloff, is the four-game series they lost in the midst of that run: to the rebuilding, also-ran Pirates.

Back-to-back infield singles leading off the second by Patrick Wisdom and Nico Hoerner produced the first run of the game, Wisdom taking second on a throwing error on his single to third and scoring on a bunt hit by Hoerner — who wound up on second after a throwing error on that play.

Hoerner advanced to second on a grounder and scored on rookie Narciso Crook’s sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.

Wisdom added a two-out RBI single to left in the eighth for an insurance run.

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