Mills, two relievers combine to shut out KC
David Ross tried his best to be a ray of sunshine on a cold, windy and wet night at Wrigley Field, while the baseball season remained teetering on the brink.
"We are really enjoying baseball," Ross said before Monday's game. "I hope the world is enjoying baseball. It's fun to come in here everyday to work and we're trying to be as safe as we possibly can and enjoy the game we love to play."
It's always more fun when you're winning and the Cubs improved to 8-2 on the season with a 2-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Alec Mills delivered another quality start for the Cubs. He threw seven scoreless innings, with 3 hits, 3 walks and 4 strikeouts in 96 pitches.
In his first start of the season at Cincinnati last week, Mills was reliant on ground balls. He kept the ball down against KC on Monday, but the Royals started out hitting the ball in the air. Ryan O'Hearn managed to drop a first-inning pop fly onto the left field line, which bounced for a ground-rule double.
"I like to think of myself a groundball pitcher," Mills said after the game. "More or less, I'm just trying to promote bad contact. If it's in the air, I'm OK with it. Especially on a night like tonight, I think if they want to swing as hard as they can, try to hit it out, there's a real good chance it's not going to get out tonight."
Mills got out of jams in the first two innings, then retired 15 of 16 Kansas City batters after walking former Cub Jorge Soler to open the third. The one runner Mills allowed in that span was wiped out trying to steal second base.
Mills credited his slow start to being fired up to face his old team. Mills was drafted in the 22nd round by the Royals out of Tennessee-Martin in 2012. He made three appearances for KC in 2016 before being traded to the Cubs.
"Obviously, it's tough to hold grudges and stuff, but that's a team that got rid of me a couple years ago," Mills said. "I understand the business and my job is to make it hurt whenever I face them again. It took four years for it to happen, but I'm glad it did."
Casey Sadler came on in relief in the eighth, retired the first two batters, then gave up a single to Soler. Ross summoned Rowan Wick from the bullpen and he let out a scream that could probably be heard on the Cubby Bear patio when striking out O'Hearn to end the inning.
Wick stayed on for the ninth and completed the shutout for his second save of the season.
The Cubs got on the board in the fifth. They loaded the bases with nobody out on two walks and a single, then Javy Baez' sacrifice fly brought home Nico Hoerner with the game's first run.
Kris Bryant, hitting .179 on the year, mashed his first home run into the wind in the eighth inning to create some cushion. After the contest, Bryant said he promised his infant son he would hit a home run in Monday's game.
"My wife reminded me of that," Bryant said. "When I hit it, I didn't remember that. I don't think I've ever told anybody that, 'I'm going to hit you a homer' and then I actually do. It's kind of cool. I'll be able to tell him that when he's as little older. I'll probably do (tell him) tomorrow too."
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