You know, despite the massive selloff the Cubs made at the trading deadline, they still do have major-league capable players, and more of those than you might think.
And two guys who have had previous MLB experience, Adrian Sampson and Michael Hermosillo, had big days Wednesday afternoon in Cincinnati, leading the Cubs to a 7-1 win.
A couple of notes: It was the first time the Cubs had a six-run lead at any time since they were up 7-0 over the Diamondbacks after five innings July 23 at Wrigley Field, 26 days ago. It’s the first time the Cubs have won a road series since they took two of three in Arizona right after the All-Star break, and... the first time they’ve won a series in Cincinnati since July 27-29, 2020. Feels good, right? Imagine how these players must feel.
Let’s unpack this one, because it was well-played in just about every facet of the game.
The Cubs wasted no time taking the lead in this one. With two out in the first, Ian Happ smashed his 14th home run of the year [VIDEO].
That’s two home runs in as many days for Happ, who’s been hitting better lately (entering this game, 7-for-21 over his previous six games with two homers). He’s certainly earned more playing time and who knows? Maybe he’s figured out why the first half of this year was so bad for him.
The Cubs blew it open in the second. No, I am not making that up. David Bote led off with a walk and then Hermosillo launched one into the second deck in left [VIDEO].
That ball? Crushed!
Those homers were off a pretty good pitcher, too, Tyler Mahle, who had given other Cubs hitters fits over the last couple of years.
But these new Cubs were not done in that inning, no sirree.
Robinson Chirinos singled and two outs later (one a sac bunt by Sampson moving Chirinos up), Rafael Ortega singled in the third run of the inning [VIDEO].
Want more? All righty then! Another run on yet another extra-base hit by Frank Schwindel [VIDEO].
That seven-game XBH streak is the first for a Cubs right-handed hitter since Aramis Ramirez did it 12 years ago, July 22-29, 2009.
Yes, that’s right, Kris Bryant never did that as a Cub. Neither did Javier Báez.
Schwindel is now hitting .390/.429/.729 (23-for-59) as a Cub with eight doubles and four home runs in 17 games.
Do I think that can last? Absolutely not. But it sure is fun to watch while it’s happening and give Schwindel a lot of credit, he is making absolutely the most out of his opportunity to play every day. And his facial expressions have launched Twitter memes.
Meanwhile, Sampson was throwing well in his first MLB start since 2019. The only mistake he made: A home-run ball served up to Tyler Naquin in the bottom of the second that made it 5-1. Otherwise, four innings, four hits besides the homer, no walks (!) and two strikeouts. Will he get more opportunities? Impossible to say at this time, but this one was a good one.
Manuel Rodriguez threw two good innings in relief and Rowan Wick, Adam Morgan and Trevor Megill one scoreless frame each. Overall for the Cubs pen: five innings, one hit, two walks, eight strikeouts, a very impressive day for the pitching staff as a whole against a very good offensive lineup that entered today second in the NL in runs (615) and third in home runs (168).
The Cubs scored twice more and yes, it’s worth looking at those scoring plays. Sergio Alcántara, who’s been in a massive slump recently, smashed his third homer of the year in the sixth [VIDEO].
The Cubs added one final run in the ninth. Two walks by Ortega and Schwindel started the inning, but Happ hit into a double play with Ortega taking third.
The only thing missing from that play was a fielder trying to chase Duffy back toward the plate. (Hey, we can laugh today, right?)
As I said, give this makeshift Cubs team and its players some credit. They were thrown together like a last-minute expansion team about three weeks ago, some of these guys had probably never even met each other before July 31. It’s no wonder they had trouble playing as something resembling an actual team for a while. But these guys do have baseball talent and the last two days, they have shown it. It’s not going to make a postseason appearance for this team, of course, and today, at least, I don’t want to hear anything about “it’s ruining their draft position!” Winning is always good and the Cubs are likely drafting somewhere between fifth and ninth next summer, which should get them a quality player for the system. In the meantime, this group might win more games than you thought they would.
The Cubs will certainly enjoy their off day Thursday and then a team they might have a chance to defeat, the Royals, comes to Wrigley Field to open a three-game series Friday. Zach Davies will start for the Cubs and Brad Keller is the scheduled starter for KC. Game time Friday is 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network (and also on MLB Network outside the Cubs and Royals market territories).
Go have some meatloaf for dinner! We all deserve it.