CHICAGO – By that time, it became comical for the Cubs’ interim manager.
“I was borderline giddy in the dugout thinking ‘It can’t happen again, can it,'” said Andy Green when he saw Frank Schwindel trot to the plate Monday afternoon at Wrigley Field in the eighth inning.
The first baseman had a shot for a fourth-straight game to put his team ahead at the plate. When the opportunity presented itself the previous three times, he delivered, hence Green’s near joking question against the Reds with the score tied at three.
“We’re laughing over there just by the sheer fact that he was up with the opportunity to do something special again,” said Green, and once again, Schwindel delivered.
With one out in the eight, Schwindel took a pitch into right field to bring home Alfonso Rivas for the game-winning run in a 4-3 victory over the Reds. It was the fourth-straight time he’d done so, which per ESPN Stats and Info, is the first time that’s happened in 40 years.
Schwindel had the go-ahead homer on Friday in the sixth inning of a win over the Pirates, then had an infield hit to walk-off Pittsburgh in the ninth on Saturday as he slid into first to avoid the tag. A seventh-inning grand slam helped the Cubs to a wild 11-8 win on Sunday, which was then followed by the go-ahead RBI on Monday.
Those heroic led to Schwindel being named the National League’s Player of the Week after hitting .462 with five homers and 12 RBI, with 11 hits, three homers, and nine RBI coming in this recent four-game stretch.
“It’s just unbelievable,” said Schwindel on Sunday before yet another game-winner on Monday. “Probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing baseball these last couple of days. I’ve got a bunch of friends in the stands, their enjoying it just as much as I am.
“The guys in the clubhouse, we’re all having a good time. Nothing’s better than this.”
Schwindel’s story is one of the best in what’s been a rough few months for the team. When an 11-game losing streak took the Cubs out of contention, it freed up the front office to trade the team’s core players, leading to the season bottoming out in August.
Their 7-20 record that month was their worst since May of 2006, when they finished 7-22.
The acquisition of Schwindel came before the main selloff as the Cubs picked him up on waivers from the Athletics on July 18th. With Anthony Rizzo traded to the Yankees, he took over the primary role as first baseman for the team and had seen success the majority of the time.
In 33 games, Schwindel has hit .374/.421/.699 with ten homers and 30 RBI, doing so after just playing in 14 regular season games in Oakland and Kansas City before joining the Cubs. The recent hot streak has aided the Cubs’ to a season-long seven-straight victories, which comes just a few weeks removed from a decade-long 12-game losing streak.
His performance won’t help to save a lost season, but it has provided some joy for fans after the disappointment at the trade deadline. It’s brought happiness to Schwindel too, though he understands this is part of the ebb and flow of a hitter’s career.
“Baseball’s a streaky game. Sometimes you feel this good and you don’t get the knocks, sometimes you feel worse and you end up squeaking some out,” said Schwindel. “I’m feeling pretty good. I think I’m swinging at some good pitches, and good things are happening.”
At a time when the Cubs needed it to be.