As the World Series continues, the Kyle Schwarber legend grows
CLEVELAND – Ten days ago he seemed destined to be a fan for the entire playoffs. Now he’s a candidate for “Mr. Cub-tober.”
These are the kind of things that happen during a World Series- and now it’s transpiring with Cubs’ comeback kid. It’s stunning to some just to see him on the field after tearing his ACL and MCL just six month ago. Actually contributing to a victory is the stuff of legends.
Think that is hyperbole? Not when it comes to Kyle Schwarber and his two games so far in the Fall Classic.
“To even be able to put himself in this position to be on the World Series roster, and to contribute the way he has is remarkable,” said Cubs’ Game 2 starter Jake Arrieta after the Cubs’ 5-1 win in Game 2 over the Indians at Progressive Field on Wednesday night. “I’ve never seen anything like it. For a guy to be able to do something like this in his second year is just, you know, I’m kind of speechless.”
Three hits and a pair of RBI’s after six months off due to injury and two Arizona Fall League games produce that kind of silence. Schwarber has done so on perhaps the biggest stage in Cubs’ history over the past two games as the team’s designated hitter.
In Game 1 he missed a solo homer by just a few feet in right field in what was just his fifth-at-bat of the season. Schwarber hit four times in the team’s opener against the Angels on April 4th then drew a walk in his first at-bat on April 7th in Arizona before a collision in the outfield with Dexter Fowler tore up his knee and took him out most of the season.
With three more appearances on Tuesday, Schwarber looked like his normal self in a strong Game 2 performance. In the third inning he smacked a single to center to bring home Anthony Rizzo to make it 2-0. Two innings later another hit to center plated Ben Zobrist to make the lead four.
Schwarber drew a walk in the sixth inning and is currently batting .333 in the playoffs while slugging .667 in helping the Cubs earn a split of the first two games of their first World Series in 71 years.
“No, it’s not that easy, first off,” said Schwarber when asked how he managed to make it look that way in the first two games of the series. “Baseball’s a crazy game. It will do crazy things to you, but this is the moment that we all look for when we were little kids, to play in the World Series and win it. We just took a small step today, but we’ve still got a long way to go.
“We just took a small step today, but we’ve still got a long way to go.”
But as a postseason performance, Schwarber has grown up fast. His two games in Cleveland add to an already impressive postseason resume that is just two seasons and 11 games old. Like this series, the Cubs’ 2014 first round draft pick is hitting .333 during the playoffs and already has the franchise record for postseason homers with five.
He has ten hits to go along with eight RBIs and while he has struck out ten times, Schwarber does hold a slugging percentage of .867. In the 2015 playoffs, he delivered two memorable moments on long homers to right in the NL Wild Card game at Pittsburgh and the scoreboard shot in Game 4 of the National League Division Series at Wrigley Field.
Add those three hits off an injury the last two days into that memorable category.
“I’m just trying to put in team at-bats right now. I want to help this team get to the ultimate goal. That’s why I did all of this was for these guys in the clubhouse and for our organization,” said Schwarber. “It wasn’t for me. So, like I said, I just want to put in good team at-bats every time I go to the plate and take that result.”
Is there a possibility that he could do that at Wrigley Field for Games 3, 4, and 5 in the outfield. Remember there is no designated hitter when the series goes to the National League park so Schwarber would have to patrol a third of the outfield to get more than one at-bat.
“That’s going to be what the doctors tell us. I have no idea,” said manager Joe Maddon, who like Schwarber doesn’t know what the weekend will hold. “We’re going to go back. We have mandatory workout tomorrow, so we’re going to be at the ballpark. If it’s okay, possibly you might see him taking some fly balls, if there’s any chance at all.
“But I honestly don’t know. That’s something I’m waiting to hear from our guys, from our medical side, because obviously he looks good. He looks good at the plate. Running the bases he looks pretty good so far.”
Almost too good? Not according to Kris Bryant.
“He’s definitely provided a nice spark for us, one we kinda expected,” said the third baseman – though he might be alone in expecting this comeback that’s quickly becoming legendary in an already unprecedented playoff run.