It was quite a year, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were felt throughout Major League Baseball. After a lengthy delay to the start of the season, the Cubs finished the year 34-26, ultimately finding a way to win the National League Central.
While the year didn’t finish the way the fan base might have wanted, there were some bright spots during the season.
Here are the top five moments from the Cubs’ 2020 season:
1. Alec Mills no-hits the Brewers on Sept. 13
Easily the brightest moment of the season came courtesy of right-hander Alec Mills, whose no-hitter also might have been the most surprising moment in the entire league this season.
Up to that point, Mills never had pitched longer than seven innings in a game, and it took an injury to left-hander Jose Quintana for him to even make the rotation. But even in an up-and-down season, he showed flashes of brilliance and put together the ultimate performance against the Brewers.
The most surprising part of Mills’ no-no was that he didn’t throw a pitch above 90 mph, showing that he was in complete control and had his entire repertoire working.
“I’ll always remember it and just look back and be thankful,” Mills said.
2. Cubs’ outfield makes HR history on Aug. 30 in Cincinnati
Ian Happ, Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber each had their own unique seasons, but on a getaway day in late August, the trio put on a performance for the ages, becoming the first members of a starting outfield to each hit multiple homers in a game.
It was also the first time the Cubs have had three multihomer players since April 16, 1955.
The barrage began with Schwarber, who kicked things off with a shot off talented Reds starter Luis Castillo, who only had allowed one homer all season entering that start.
Happ and Heyward each homered in their next two plate appearances. Schwarber was the bookend on a historic day, launching a grand slam in the ninth in the Cubs’ 10-1 victory.
“This game has been going on for a while now, so it’s pretty rare to have a first,” Happ said. “To be able to do that as a group with two other guys that you care about a lot and you’ve played with for a long time, that was really special for all of us.”
3. Cubs finish season with no player testing positive for COVID-19
During the pandemic’s early stages, it didn’t look like the MLB season would start, let alone be completed. During the early portion of the season, many teams had players test positive for COVID-19, while others dealt with full-blown outbreaks.
The Cubs were able to stay on top of their health and safety protocols as a team and made the health and safety of players and staff the priority.
According to a league source, the Cubs were just one of eight teams to complete the season without a player testing positive for COVID-19. They were also the only team to not have a positive test after the intake testing during summer camp.
“I also want to recognize the families of the players and staff who made a lot of sacrifices,” former president Theo Epstein said in September. “There was a lot of separation as part of the season to get through it, and families and a lot of spouses took on an extra burden, kids not seeing their parents.
“So a lot of people had to make sacrifices and look out for one another in order to get through this, and they should get a well-deserved tip of the cap, because it wasn’t easy. And we really appreciate all the effort.”
4. Yu Darvish’s complete transformation, epitomized by his start Sept. 4
Yu Darvish’s first season in Chicago was one to forget, and after his rough start to his Cubs career, many wondered if Darvish could ever return to the ace form he showed for many years with the Rangers.
But after a bounce back in 2019, things took off for Darvish in 2020 as he resembled a true ace once again. Darvish was arguably the best pitcher in the NL, finishing second to Trevor Bauer in NL Cy Young Award voting, and against the Cardinals on Sept. 4, his performance was a microcosm of his season.
Darvish allowed just one hit and struck out 11 (tied for his season high) without allowing a walk. It was his seventh consecutive start allowing one run or fewer.
The Cubs traded Darvish to the Padres on Monday, bringing his career in Chicago to a close, but after turning himself back into one of the game’s best, the Cubs’ investment paid off.
5. Kyle Hendricks’ Opening Day magic on July 24
With the anticipated season finally underway, starter Kyle Hendricks wasted no time reminding everyone how good he is. The ace tossed a shutout against the Brewers in the first Opening Day start of his career.
Hendricks twirled one of his vintage performances, allowing three hits and needing only 104 pitches to finish the game. It was his first shutout since blanking the Cardinals on 81 pitches on May 3, 2019. It was also the Cubs’ first Opening Day shutout since Bill Bonham did it in 1974.
The long-delayed victory was special to Hendricks, but being able to help manager David Ross get his first victory as Cubs skipper made the moment even sweeter.
“That’s what means the most to me. I love that guy,” Hendricks said of Ross. “We just love playing for him. We’ve been waiting for this moment. We were excited in the spring before this all started and just the vibe and the energy he brings every day. I told him I was going to go out there and get him his first win. It was a good win, for sure.’’