Alec Mills will make his first start since throwing a no-hitter when the Chicago Cubs host the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night.
Mills, 28, made history when he put zeroes on the scoreboard last Sunday against the Milwaukee Brewers. He became the 16th pitcher in Cubs history to throw a no-hitter and the first since Jake Arrieta in 2016.
The final out and the moments that followed were a blur, Mills said. The milestone achievement came in his 15th career start and his ninth of the season.
The 6-4, 205-pound right-hander marveled at his unlikely journey to the big leagues. He did not receive a college scholarship out of high school and ended up walking on to the team at University of Tennessee-Martin.
In 2012, the Kansas City Royals drafted him in the 22nd round. Little was promised.
“Never give up,” Mills said. “You know, some people are going to tell you you can’t do it or you’re not good enough. That’s just one person. So just keep working. Just persevere.”
The next test for Mills (5-3, 3.93 ERA) comes against the Twins. He has yet to face them during his brief career.
Minnesota will counter with right-hander Michael Pineda (1-0, 3.57 ERA), who is set to make his fourth start of the season and the 147th of his career.
Pineda is coming off his bumpiest start of the season as he allowed three runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings against the Cleveland Indians. In his previous two outings, he allowed four runs over 13 innings for a 2.77 ERA.
The fast start to the season provided confidence to the veteran known as “Big Mike.”
“I’m feeling very proud of myself because that’s what we want, just trying to work longer in the game and (giving) everything I’ve got every five to six days,” Pineda said after a 6-2 win over the Detroit Tigers in his second-to-last start. “… We try to keep it up in the game to get some rest for the relievers. That’s my focus.”
The 31-year-old Pineda has faced the Cubs twice in his career — once in 2014 and then again in 2017. He is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in those starts.
Chicago (31-20) has won five games in a row, including a 1-0 victory over the Twins in Friday’s series opener. The Cubs have a chance to match their longest winning streak of the season if they win their sixth straight on Saturday.
Each of the Cubs’ past three wins have come by one run apiece.
Minnesota (31-22) has lost four of its past five games, including back-to-back losses by one run. All of those four losses have come in Chicago as the Twins make an extended stay in the city with series matchups against the White Sox and Cubs.
The Twins got good news Friday as catcher Mitch Garver came off the injured list. Garver went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts in the series opener, which marked his first game since Aug. 19.
–Field Level Media