One run was enough for the Cubs to win on Friday, but the Twins bats made sure that wasn't the case on Saturday.
Cubs starter Alec Mills was sharp, better than his final line indicates, but he was charged with the loss in an 8-1 loss to Minnesota at Wrigley Field.
Mills pitched into the seventh inning and gave the Cubs another good start. But their bats were quiet, and the Twins tacked on against the Cubs bullpen.
The Twins clinched a postseason berth with the win. Here’s some quick takes from the game.
Mills' bid for a second straight no-hitter ended in the first inning Saturday, when he allowed a solo home run to Eddie Rosario. And although he allowed a leadoff homer in the seventh, he was in command for much of the game.
Mills pitched 6+ innings, allowing six hits and four earned runs. He walked one and struck out seven, retiring 12 of 14 from the first through fifth inning.
Mills' outing ended on a sour note — the Twins' Max Kepler hit a ground-rule double after Miguel Sano's homer to open the seventh — but outside of a few swings, he was solid.
"Baseball's funny. I actually think [Saturday's] stuff was probably better than I had last time, to be honest with you," said Mills, comparing Saturday to his no-hitter last Sunday. "You may think I'm crazy for saying that.
"I made a couple of mistakes and they made it hurt. That's why the Twins are a good baseball team. That's what they do.
Mills now holds a 2.77 ERA in four starts (26 innings) this month.
The Cubs offense put together a rally in the second inning, when David Bote knocked a two-out double down the third base line, driving in Willson Contreras.
That was the extent of the Cubs scoring, as they tallied a single run for the second straight night. They recorded five hits, including three by Jason Heyward.
Heyward finished the night 3-for-3 before being removed with other starters in the ninth inning. The rest of the lineup went 2-for-29 with nine strikeouts.
The Cubs haven’t had to lean too hard on their bullpen of late due to the starting rotation’s run of success — nine quality starts in the last 10 games, dating back to Sept. 7 — and two off days this week.
Manager David Ross was able to get several relievers their first work in over a week. Josh Osich (Sept. 9), Duane Underwood Jr. (Sept. 8), Rex Brothers (July 29) and Dan Winkler (Sept. 10) each pitched Saturday. (The Cubs recalled Brothers from their alternate site on Sept. 11, hence the long time between his outings.)
"We haven't played the type of games that allow us to get those guys in there," Ross said. "You don't ever want to lose a ballgame, but try to get those guys in.
"A lot of those guys were going on some heavy days [off]. You've got to get them some work and we were able to do that tonight."
Osich was charged for three runs (two earned) on one hit. He also hit a batter, and another reached on a fielder’s choice.
Underwood allowed a pair of singles and benefited from two outfield assists from Ian Happ in center field. Brothers struck out the side in the eighth, and Winkler allowed a solo home run in the ninth.
The Cubs will need their entire bullpen to step up, as high-leverage arm Rowan Wick could be done for the season with a left oblique strain.
Prior to the game, the Cubs paid tribute to longtime scout Gary Hughes and Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Hughes, a member of the Cubs organization from 2002-11, when he was general manager Jim Hendry’s special assistant, died Saturday at age 79.
Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, died Friday due to complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. She was 87.
The Cubs play their final regular season game at Wrigley Field on Sunday Night Baseball, taking on the Twins. First pitch is scheduled for 6:08 p.m. CT. José Berríos (4-3, 4.15 ERA) and Yu Darvish (7-2, 1.86 ERA) are the probable starters.