- MILWAUKEE (AP) - From college walk-on to major league starter, Chicago Cubs right-hander Alec Mills had to earn most every break he got.
On the brink of big league history, he was happy to welcome this bit of luck: expecting to see two-time batting champion Christian Yelich in the on-deck circle, Mills looked over and saw his backup instead.
"That kind of surprised me," he said.
This one surprised just about everyone.
Mills cruised through baseball's second no-hitter this season in just the 15th start of his career, completing the gem in a 12-0 romp over the Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday.
Mills got Jace Peterson who - replaced Yelich, the 2018 NL MVP, on defense late in the blowout - to hit a routine grounder to shortstop Javier Baez with two outs in the ninth. Baez completed the play, and the Cubs swarmed around Mills, tearing off his cap and pulling at the smiling right-hander's uniform after his first career complete game.
"It just hasn't really hit me yet," the 28-year-old said. "It's kind of crazy, I didn't even know how to celebrate. Just something that all came together today. Obviously a memory I'll have forever."
Mills (5-3) threw 114 pitches and hardly had any close calls in Chicago's 16th no-hitter. Avisail Garcia almost got to him twice, hitting a line drive to right in the first and nearly legging out an infield hit to shortstop in the sixth. Garcia crossed first and immediately called to the Brewers dugout for a review, but after a very brief stoppage, the Brewers opted not to challenge.
Mills would have faced Garcia again in the ninth, but Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell pulled the 2017 All-Star along with Yelich in the eighth with his team trailing big. Mills struck out Garcia's replacement, Tyrone Taylor, for the second out in the ninth.
"Taylor hitting there and then Peterson, I had no idea they were in the game," Mills said.
Mills struck out five and walked three. His five strikeouts are the fewest in a Cubs no-hitter since Ken Holtzman in 1969. He only induced five swings and misses, tied with Oakland's Dallas Braden during his perfect game in 2010 for fewest in a no-hitter since at least 1988, per Stats Inc.
"I can promise you it was not a slow heartbeat," Mills said. "I had to kind of take a seat and calm myself down. It was tough. I had to take a lot of deep breaths and get into a good mindset."
Chicago White Sox ace Lucas Giolito threw baseball's other no-hitter this season against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 15.
Mills was a 22nd-round draft pick by Kansas City in 2012 and had Tommy John surgery in 2013. He had started just six major league games prior to this season but cracked Chicago's rotation because of an injury to Jose Quintana.
He went 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in his first two starts, struggled in his next five but pitched solidly Tuesday against the Reds with six shutout innings. The no-hitter dropped his ERA to 3.93.
Not bad for a player who didn't get a college scholarship. Mills was a walk-on at Tennessee-Martin.
"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."
Mills happily took high-fives as teammates got close during the celebration - a no-no no-no amid the coronavirus pandemic that didn't concern players in the moment.
Their yells of congratulations echoed around the empty stadium, which has yet to have Brewers fans in attendance for a no-hitter. Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano had thrown the only no-hitter at Miller Park, against the Houston Astros on Sept. 14, 2008. The Cubs played the Astros in Milwaukee because of damage in the Houston area from Hurricane Ike.
Baez was anxious to be part of history as the ground ball for the final out came his way.
"I just wanted the ball hit to me," Baez said. "Then I was making sure the ball was in my glove."
Mills completed the Cubs' first no-hitter since Jake Arrieta did it twice in eight months: at the Los Angeles Dodgers on Aug. 30, 2015, and at Cincinnati on April 21, 2016.
Milwaukee had not been held hitless since Detroit's Justin Verlander pitched the first of his three no-hitters on June 12, 2007. It's the fourth time the Brewers have been no-hit.
Held without a hit through three innings, the Cubs broke through against Milwaukee in the fourth against starter Adrian Houser (1-5) due in large part to shoddy fielding by the Brewers. Kyle Schwarber drew a one-out walk, Baez reached on an error and Jason Heyward followed with a bloop double to left to drive in a run.
With the infield in, Jason Kipnis hit a ball directly to Brewers second baseman Keston Hiura, who had it slip out of his hand as he tried to rush a throw to the plate, allowing a run to score.
Victor Caratini followed with a run-scoring bloop single and Ian Happ connected for a two-run single as the Cubs scored five runs in the inning, all unearned.
"Nothing went right today. We didn't play a good game," Counsell said. "We played a poor game and we lost. We have to turn the page and know that there's still a lot of important baseball left in front of us."
David Bote's two-run homer later in the fifth extended the lead to 9-0. Caratini's run-scoring double in the seventh put the Cubs up 10-0. Chicago added a pair of runs in the ninth off Orlando Arcia, the Brewers shortstop who came on to pitch the final inning.
MADISON - The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature on Wednesday appealed a federal court ruling that allows for absentee ballots to be counted up to six days after the Nov. 3 presidential election in the battleground state.
The appeal was expected after Monday's highly anticipated court ruling in favor of Democrats and their allies. The judge even put his ruling on hold for seven days in anticipation of a quick appeal.
CHICAGO - Chicago officials Tuesday told visitors from Wisconsin for the second time that they must remain in quarantine for two weeks if they visit the city.
The order set to take effect Friday comes as Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers declared a "new public health emergency" because of a spike in coronavirus cases in that state and extended a statewide mask mandate there until Nov. 21.
ANTIGO - The Wild Ones Northwoods Gateway Chapter created a butterfly garden in Antigo to help pollinators such as bees, birds, and butterflies. They created a space that can be enjoyed and used to teach people how they can help the environment with native plants and the sustainable landscaping movement.
The president of the Wild Ones Antigo Chapter, Christine Macklem, is an avid gardener that wanted to figure out how to make a butterfly garden for the community. She believes Wild Ones can help along with the Lumberjack Community Project Grant Program.
"The one mission we had in mind was to educate the public about native plants and pollinators and to build this butterfly garden," said Macklem.
Julie Rose, is a concerned environmentalist that hopes the garden will help sustain the native bees that are vital to our agriculture and human community. Including the birds that contribute to pollinating.
"There's been a steep decline in bird population, for the same reason as habitat degradation, pesticide use, and climate change," said Rose.
Ann Savagian studied biology with an emphasis in botany which brought her to Wild Ones.
"To encourage people to turn at least part of their property their landscape into a native habitat so that it supports plants that are needed by not just pollinators, but by the birds and the mammals and so on," said Savagian.
This garden is an educational tool for children in elementary school where they hope to teach children about the importance of bees and other pollinators.
"We want people to walk the path in Antigo. We want them to park their car and just come in and sit and meditate on the benches and learn about what we're doing right here," said Macklem.
The garden was created in July 2020 and the chapter is open to new members. If you would like to learn more or donate you can visit their Facebook group Wild Ones Northwoods Gateway Chapter.
WAUSAU - The 34-year-old man accused of attempting to meet young girls online for sex was formally charged Tuesday in Marathon County Circuit Court with trafficking of a child, after being arrested on September 21. Osterman was arrested in Oneida County and transferred to Marathon County Jail.
On September 21, the arrest is a result of a two year investigation conducted by the Oneida County Sheriff's Office and the Internet Crimes against Children Task Force.
Marathon County Judge Suzanne O'Neil set a $50,000 cash bond for Osterman, during court there were some disagreements on whether to issue a signature bond or a cash bond. Runde said Osterman faces a charge in Arizona of "public sexual indecency". Runde said the risk of flight for Osterman is very high, so a cash bond is appropriate instead of a signature.
Assistant District Attorney Davis Runde said the state requested a higher amount cash bond due to the strength of the case.
"His actions have at least crossed state lines into Illinois and on the eve of his arrest the defendant traveled back from Minnesota," said Runde. "At approximately 3 O'clock in the morning there have been well over 100 cyber tips relayed to the investigative team in which the defendant attempts to obtain a child for the purpose of having sex."
These agencies received Cyber Tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding messages that were being intercepted on the internet from a person looking to have sexual contact with a child. During the investigation, Osterman attempted to obtain a child for the purpose of having sex with that child.
Four search warrants were served in Oneida County on September 21, 2020 as part of the investigation.
According to the criminal complaint, dating back to January 2018, investigators believe Osterman used an alias and attempted to meet a young girl for sex using the social networking service, MeetMe. Per the criminal complaint public wi-fi had been used, the identity of the user could not be determined.
According to the complaint, at the time, the user had suggested meeting an underage girl, but later stated it was a joke, when the recipient said they'd call the police.
Osterman's criminal complaints shows similar request at various times over the two year period until June 2020. Osterman owns internet service provider Northwoods Connect, which serves Wisconsin's Northwoods. According to the complaint, Osterman told investigators anyone of his 400 customers could be the suspect, but there was no way to track one specific customer to the IP address when the detective attempted to track the source of the messages.
According to the complaint, in February 2020, Osterman's vehicle was seen near one of the several W-Fi locations that he often used. Per the complaint a Rhinelander police officer asked Osterman what he was doing there for several hours, Osterman replied he was the owner of Northwoods Connect and was testing the internet speed of his competitors.
Per the complaint, investigators later installed a GPS device on his vehicle in April and say they matched his location to the source of the messages.
According to the complaint, in May Osterman is accused of attempting to meet a 9-year-old at a motel in Tomahawk, per the complaint Osterman never showed up and the meet up turned out to be fake.
On June 8th, multiple agencies, including the state Department of Criminal Investigations, set up an operation to meet up with Osterman. The GPS locator put his car at the park in Marathon County where he was supposed to meet up with the under-cover agent who told Osterman she could get him a 9-year-old girl.
The complaint says Osterman walked around the park but never met up with the agent, even while they continued to exchange messages.
Osterman's arrest was a collaborate effort between the Oneida County Sheriff's Office and the Internet Crimes against Children Task Force. The Tomahawk Police Department, the Rhinelander Police Department, the Wausau Police Department and the Marathon County Sheriff's Office also assisted with the investigation.
His cash bond is set at $50,000. If he posts bond:
Allowed no contact with children under 18.
No leaving the state of Wisconsin.
No use of internet capable devices.
Turn in his passport to the Marathon Co. Sheriffs Office.
Osterman will appear in court again on Indigency hearing on September 28 and again on September 30 for a preliminary hearing.
MADISON - Faced with soaring coronavirus cases across Wisconsin, particularly on college campuses, Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday extended a statewide mask mandate until Nov. 21.
The order, which has been in effect since August, was scheduled to expire on Monday. Evers extended the order even as his authority to issue a previous mandate is being challenged by conservatives in court.
UNITED STATES - The death toll in the U.S. from the coronavirus has topped 200,000, a figure unimaginable eight months ago when the scourge first reached the world's richest nation.
That's according to the count kept by Johns Hopkins University, based on figures from state health authorities. The real number of dead is thought be much higher, in part because many COVID-19 deaths, especially early on, were probably ascribed to other causes.
The number of dead in the U.S. is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 67 days. It is roughly equal to the population of Salt Lake City or Huntsville, Alabama.
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