December 3, 2022

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Hermosillo breaks through for big 1st hit

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CHICAGO — Michael Hermosillo grew up just 1 1/2 hours from Wrigley Field, dreaming about playing for the Cubs. Now, he experiences that every day.

“It’s amazing,” Hermosillo said of what it means to play for the Cubs. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s definitely a dream come true to be playing in Wrigley.”

After a rough 0-for-12 start to begin the season, Hermosillo finally connected in a 4-2 loss to the Pirates at Wrigley Field on Friday night.

In the second inning, Hermosillo came to the plate with two outs, runners on first and second and a chance to capitalize. The 27-year-old saw three consecutive changeups dip out of the zone to begin the at-bat; one was called a strike. On the fourth, seeing another changeup, the fifth-year outfielder crushed it for a double, bringing in Patrick Wisdom and Yan Gomes to tie it at 2.

“It was good to have that result,” Hermosillo said. “I feel like my process has been good. So it was awesome to be able to tie the game up and contribute in that way, but obviously would have rather won the game tonight.”

As Hermosillo approached second base on the double, he looked toward the Cubs’ dugout and smiled.

“It’s been a little bit of a joke,” Hermosillo said about his teammates. “It was a little bit of relief, but I think it was more having that impact in the game. Being able to tie the game up, it was a little bit easier to joke about.”

That double, which also marked his first RBIs of the season, traveled a Statcast-projected 364 feet with an exit velocity of 100 mph.

“To do that in that moment was big for us, and I know it’s big for him,” said manager David Ross. “That was nice to see him continue to just have his at-bats.”

Hermosillo had struggled through his first 17 plate appearances, however, he’s worked some solid at-bats this year.

On Sunday against the Rockies, Hermosillo battled for seven pitches with the bases loaded in the fifth inning. He eventually connected on a fastball off the bat at 104 mph, his hardest-hit ball this season, but lined out to center field. The contact was there, with an expected batting average of .660.

“It’s one of those things where if you don’t chase the results, they’ll come,” Hermosillo said. “[I] did everything right on that ball with the bases loaded and it didn’t land. But staying with it, I got rewarded tonight.”

Although Hermosillo wasn’t getting it done with his bat, he was staying disciplined at the plate. In the Colorado series, he drew three walks and one hit by pitch in nine plate appearances.

“He had really good at-bats in Colorado, taking his walks,” Ross said.

To begin his Cubs career, it’s been tough sledding for Hermosillo. After being called up late last year, he played in just 16 games and ended the season on the injured list. But he found most of his success for Chicago in the leadoff spot, where he hit .321, showing his potential.

Another glimpse was showcased on Sept. 3 against the Pirates at Wrigley when Hermosillo went 3-for-5 with a double, a home run and three RBIs. He also recorded two hits over 100 mph while displaying patience at the plate. That included waiting for his pitch on that home run, on the eighth pitch of the at-bat.

On Friday, he did that again. He waited for the right pitch, stayed calm and was rewarded with his first multi-RBI game since that Pittsburgh game last season.

Unfortunately, his double would account for all Chicago’s scoring. The Cubs’ offense was again quiet against the Pirates’ bullpen. In four meetings this season, the Cubs have just one earned run against Pittsburgh’s relievers. They had opportunities Friday, like in the seventh and ninth with two runners on, but were unable to score again.

Hermosillo’s hit, though, was much needed for his confidence as he plans to stay ready whenever the Cubs need him.

“I’m just [trying] to build off that,” Hermosillo said. “[I’ve] been honing in on the cage work, just to stay consistent day to day, because it is a situation where I’ll be coming off the bench, hitting lefties and just having different types of roles. I’m just trying to be as ready for it as I can.”

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