Win over Reds more than a game for two new Cubs

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Chicago Cubs' Michael Hermosillo rounds the bases after hitting a two run home run during the second inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.

    Chicago Cubs' Michael Hermosillo rounds the bases after hitting a two run home run during the second inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.

  • Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Adrian Sampson throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.

    Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Adrian Sampson throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.

 
 
Updated 8/18/2021 6:38 PM

The Cubs could be playing for a higher draft pick, but pitcher Adrian Sampson had different goals in mind following Wednesday's 7-1 victory in Cincinnati.

"Right now it's almost Game of Thrones-esque, where we're being asked what kind of role we want to play in this organization going forward," Sampson said. "So it's ours for the taking.

 

"If you want it, you've got to go get it. That's my thought process. I really want this job, and I'm going to do everything I can to be successful."

OK, no one is going to be slaying any dragons here, but this is serious business. Sampson was brought up from Iowa to make his Cubs debut and gave up just 1 run in 4 innings.

That's not enough to collect a victory, but the Cubs won for the second time in less than 24 hours after snapping their 12-game losing streak Tuesday night.

Outfielder Michael Hermosillo got his first start for the Cubs and smashed a 2-run homer in the second inning for a 3-0 lead.

"It was just a great feeling," Hermosillo said. "It was one of those, as soon as you connect, you know. And then I heard the dugout right away screaming, so it was just a great feeling, That's one of those things where I wish you could replay that 1,000 times in your head and feel that again, that was awesome."

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There's an odd coincidence in all this. It was Hermosillo's second major-league home run and his first was off Sampson on Sept. 24, 2018. Hermosillo was playing for the Angels at the time and Sampson was pitching for the Rangers.

Obviously, his first major-league home run will always stand out. For Sampson, he gave up three that day, one to Shohei Ohtani, and admitted he didn't know the Hermosillo connection until being told after Wednesday's game.

"I feel like that was something I wasn't going to bring up," Hermosillo said. "If he wanted to bring it up, sure. But I was going to leave that one alone."

Hermosillo and Sampson were teammates for the Iowa Cubs most of the season. Sampson, 29. has 20 major-league starts under his belt, mostly with Texas in 2019.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Hermosillo played in 57 games for the Angels from 2018-20, but he's an Ottawa, Illinois native and grew up a Cubs fan. He posted an old photo on his Instagram of a trip to Wrigley Field when he was a kid, wearing a Sammy Sosa T-shirt.

"I dreamed of being a Cub, honestly," Hermosillo said. "This is obviously surreal, being an hour and half away, growing up, going to Cubs games. I've been to Cubs games when I was a kid, teenager. Even in low A when we had an all-star break, I went to a Cubs-Cardinals series.

"I just thought, if I could get to Wrigley Field as an opponent. It didn't even cross my mind that I could be a Cub one day. So obviously this is awesome, just to put on this jersey, just surreal."

The Cubs did a good job of adding some overlooked veteran players this season, like Patrick Wisdom and Rafael Ortega.

First baseman Frank Schwindel, claimed off waivers from Oakland, doubled against the Reds on Wednesday, giving him seven straight games with an extra-base hit. Schwindel is hitting .390 in 17 games with the Cubs.

Hermosillo is the youngest of the group at 26, so earning a roster spot for next year is a reasonable goal. While at Ottawa High School, he committed to play football at Illinois as a slot receiver. When he decided to give baseball a try, he said then-Illini coach Tim Beckman told him he was making a mistake, since getting to the majors as a 28th-round draft pick was a longshot.

"I don't really shame him for saying it, because in all honesty, what are the odds?" Hermosillo said. "Obviously. I would like to show I can be here every day."

Ian Happ and Sergio Alcantara also homered for the Cubs. Manuel Rodriguez threw 2 scoreless innings to pick up his first major-league win.

The Cubs return home this weekend to face Kansas City and Colorado, so it could be less strenuous than the recent winless homestand against the White Sox and Brewers. By winning two of three against the Reds, the Cubs won their first series since Arizona on July 23-25, which happened a few days before their trade deadline purge.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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