BALTIMORE — Cubs pitcher Adrian Sampson checked over his right shoulder as he crashed the bunt up the first-base line and spotted the Orioles’ Austin Hays closing in on home plate.
Sampson wouldn’t have enough time to transfer the ball from his glove to his hand. So he scooped up the ball and flipped it to catcher Willson Contreras all in one motion to get the out at the plate.
In the Cubs’ 3-2 win over the Orioles on Thursday, Sampson threw 5⅔ scoreless innings, had six strikeouts and earned his first win of the season. But the highlight of his outing was the play with his glove.
“Really nice job there,” manager David Ross said. “Composure, just feel for the glove in that moment, that was a really good play. That fired up the dugout pretty good.”
The play at the plate in the fifth inning swung the momentum from the Orioles to the Cubs. Baltimore had started to string some hits together against Sampson. Hays doubled, and Rougned Odor moved him to third base with a dribbling infield single — the kind of base hit that could have been deflating.
With one out in a scoreless game, Orioles runners stood on the corners. Jorge Mateo laid down a sacrifice bunt in a patch of grass that only Sampson could reach in time. And Sampson delivered.
“Every time you finish up [pitchers fielding practice], it’s a glove flip play at home, squeeze play or something like that,” Sampson said. “As soon as the play was developing, it was all slow motion in my head.”
After a review confirmed the out call at home, Sampson induced a pop-out in foul territory to end the fifth inning.
In the sixth inning, Contreras launched a solo homer the opposite way to break the scoreless tie.
Contreras hit another blast in the eighth for his 10th multihomer game, moving him past Jody Davis into second all-time among Cubs catchers, behind Gabby Hartnett (14).
Rookie reliever Brandon Hughes was credited with his first major-league save.
Hermosillo to start rehab assignment
Outfielder Michael Hermosillo was scheduled to start a rehab assignment in the Arizona Complex League on Thursday, a significant step in what has already been a long recovery from a left quad strain. He was penciled in as the designated hitter in his first rehab game. Hermosillo, on the 60-day injured list, has been sidelined since early May.