Cubs on skid: 'Just a matter of time'

Mills’ solid start was not enough, but Chicago remains hopeful

August 15th, 2021

MIAMI -- When a team is struggling to snap a losing streak, it often means that it’s losing games in all sorts of different ways. On Sunday, the Cubs fell, 4-1, at loanDepot park. They were swept by a Marlins team that started the series in last place in the National League East.

The Cubs lost on Sunday because they didn’t push enough runs across, while they fell on Saturday, 5-4, because of costly fielding errors. And on Friday, they scored and fielded cleanly, but when the pitching broke down, it resulted in a 14-10 loss.

“A lot of things aren’t going our way right now,” said Cubs starter Alec Mills, who turned in another solid outing. “Sometimes, we’ll score 10 and we give up 12. If we score three, we give up just [one run] too many. So it’ll happen. Everything will come together. It’s just a matter of time.”

It’s the 11th straight loss for the Cubs, matching their season-high losing streak.

“We’re in a spot where we’re trying to get better,” said manager David Ross. “I think there are better days ahead. I think these guys know this. I think the organization knows this, from the top down.”

Mills worked 5 2/3 solid innings, giving up two earned runs and one walk. He’s the first Cubs pitcher to make 12 straight starts in a single season with three or fewer earned runs and two or fewer walks since Hippo Vaughn did it for 13 consecutive starts from May 3-June 22, 1919.

The model of consistency, Mills said his success is the culmination of a lot of hard work and preparation.

“I think it just goes back to trying to put in the same work every time, make sure I’ll be able to throw the ball where I want it every time,” Mills said. “And then, obviously, being prepared with game plans, knowing how I want to attack hitters is something that’s going to make me good. I think making sure that I know what I want to do every time has really been a big step for me.”

In addition to his four-pitch mix, which fares well against both right and left-handed hitters and a deceptive sinker, Mills is rounding out his repertoire with a sneaky good fastball.

“I’ve really liked his last couple of outings where the fastball command has really played,” Ross said. “When that fastball is locked in, he’s really difficult to hit.”

Mills yielded Miami’s go-ahead run in the sixth inning on a solo home run to Jazz Chisholm Jr., which broke a 1-1 tie. He was lifted with the bases loaded and two outs after throwing 92 pitches, 64 of which were strikes. Reliever Adam Morgan struck out Magneuris Sierra to end the inning and prevent further damage, keeping Mills’ streak alive.

Frank Schwindel continued to swing a hot bat, belting a solo shot that tied the game at 1 in the top half of the sixth inning. He has at least one extra-base hit and RBI in each of his last four games and has now hit safely in 12 of 14 games since joining the Cubs.

But it wasn’t enough, and the Cubs will have to go back to the drawing board. 

“Obviously, losing is not fun,” Mills said. “Winning is a lot more fun. We’ve had good stretches in games. We haven’t put a full game together recently. But it’ll come. We have good players on this team and it’s just a matter of time.”