If the Cubs’ playoff rotation a week ago looked like a matter of “Darvish, Kyle and pray for a while,” does what happened Sunday in Milwaukee suggest the Cubs prayers are being answered?
Alec Mills, a pitcher far enough down the rotation ladder that he wasn’t in it when the five-man group was set in March before the pandemic shutdown, pulled off one of the best pitching performances in baseball during this unprecedented, short season — with the 16th no-hitter in Cubs history.
Mills allowed three walks and faced two over the minimum, thanks to a fourth-inning double play, during the 12-0 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park in Milwaukee.
"It's kind of crazy. I don't even know how to celebrate," said a remarkably calm-sounding Mills immediately after the game.
He struck out five and threw 114 pitches in the Cubs’ first no-hitter since Jake Arrieta in 2016 in Cincinnati.
It was the first complete game of Mills' career.
A pitcher acquired from the Royals in a low-key trade for minor-league outfielder Donnie Dewees just before spring training in 2017 made his Cubs debut more than a year later.
He was 5-4 with a 3.87 ERA as a Cub before Sunday, after bouncing back from a rough stretch with a scoreless, six-inning start against the Reds on Tuesday. He gave up four hits in that one.
It’s the fourth Cubs’ no-hitter since Burt Hooton and Milt Pappas each pitched one 48 years ago.
Mills joins Carlos Zambrano (2008) and Jake Arrieta (2015, 2016) on the list since then.
Zambrano’s also came at Miller Park, under strange circumstances, with the Cubs playing the Astros in a series that was relocated to Milwaukee because of Hurricane Ike in Houston.