CHICAGO – A week ago, the Cubs started one of their best stretches of play in a shortened 2020 season.
A four-run rally in the ninth inning against the Brewers gave the team a victory and a no-hitter followed the next day at Miller Park. Two wins over the Indians during the week and a 1-0 victory over the Twins on Friday gave the Cubs a five-game winning streak along with a 5 1/2 game lead in the National League Central division.
While that lead is still safe with a week to go in the regular season, the team’s recent momentum came to an abrupt halt on Saturday night.
Minnesota’s offense did damage against Cubs’ starter Alec Mills, who tossed a no-hitter six days earlier against the Brewers. He was charged with four runs allowed, including two in a five-run seventh inning that sparked an 8-1 win for the visitors at Wrigley Field.
The Twins clinched a playoff spot in the American League with the victory while the Cubs lost a game in the standings to the victorious Cardinals, who now are 4 1/2 games behind the lead in the division.
Meanwhile, the Cubs’ magic number for an NL Central title remains six with eight games to play, including the final game of the series with Minnesota on Sunday evening.
After going nine innings without a hit against Milwaukee, Mills couldn’t get out of the first inning Saturday without surrendering a run. Eddie Rosario’s long solo homer, his 12th of the year, put the Twins in the lead immediately, though the Cubs got that run back on a David Bote double in the second.
Mills, who finished with seven strikeouts compared to a single walk, was clean until the sixth inning and had two outs then before Rosario struck again. His RBI single put Minnesota back in the lead and in the seventh the game got away.
Miguel Sano led off the next frame with a long solo homer to left field to make it 3-1. A Max Kepler double led to Mills’ departure, but Jon Osich couldn’t stop the bleeding, allowing an infield hit and hitting a batter when he came in.
He induced a ground ball from Josh Donaldson to short, but Javier Baez’ throw home couldn’t get gathered by Willson Contreras, allowing another run to score. Duane Underwood Jr. came in after that and allowed RBI singles to Mitch Garver and Byron Buxton before the inning ended when the latter was thrown out at second by Ian Happ.
Meanwhile the Cubs’ offense remained stagnant in the series, getting only the run in the second and just five hits on the evening. It was just one of many things that didn’t go the Cubs way after a week of the exact opposite for the club.