Kyle Schwarber has already become a playoff legend in Wrigleyville, and it’s still almost time to turn out the lights at Clark and Addison.
The Cubs can’t win this National League Championship Series with the Kyle-or-nothing offense or a Schwarber-or-famine lineup. The New York Mets are on the verge of sweeping it after Tuesday night’s 5-2 victory, power pitching winning out again.
Don’t blame Schwarber, who’s trying to match Daniel Murphy, New York’s new Mr. October and the hottest hitter on the planet. Schwarber crushed Jacob deGrom’s 97-mph fastball into the left-center field bleachers, giving the Cubs a first-inning adrenaline rush that wouldn’t last and setting a new franchise record with five home runs during the playoff run no one saw coming.
That same thump just hasn’t been heard in the middle of this Cubs lineup – and no one’s been on base for Schwarber’s two home runs during this best-of-seven matchup. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro have so far combined to go 6-for-33 (.182) with only two extra-base hits and more strikeouts (five) than runs driven in (two).
“It’s hard to say: 'What if…what if…,'” Schwarber said. “'What if…' didn’t happen. This is what happened: We lost the ballgame. So we got to come out ready tomorrow and play our ballgame.”
Schwarber has already become a clubhouse spokesman, standing in front of his locker and talking to waves and waves of reporters. He gave no excuses for not handling Yoenis Cespedes’ RBI single in the seventh inning, saying he simply misread the line drive.
Before Game 3, a team official laughed and said he was glad the Cubs didn’t know about Schwarber’s show-choir video when they drafted the Indiana University catcher/outfielder with the No. 4 overall pick last year.
Until Schwarber, no one in major-league history had hit five postseason home runs before his 23rd birthday.
But the Deadspin clip that went viral makes total sense the more you think about it, how much Schwarber loves working to become part of a team, whether it’s hitting people as a second-team All-Ohio linebacker or singing and dancing at Middletown High School. It shows a fearless attitude.
“He’s not overwhelmed,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I don’t think he takes himself too seriously. Have you all seen that YouTube video with him dancing with – was it his high-school group? He’s like part of The Temptations or The Spinners or The Four Tops. He’s like the lead dancer. I love that. That speaks to everything for me.
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“The fact that he’d have the nerve to be out front like that and going through this whole routine…I think that speaks a lot of him walking out (there) and being very comfortable.
“He’s just very comfortable in his own skin. He’s a good baseball player. Don’t be deceived by maybe body structure, whatever. This guy’s a good athlete – and he’s a good baseball player. He’s got a good mind for the game. He asks good questions. His work ethic is unbelievable.”
Schwarber’s makeup should help the Cubs return to October someday as a tougher team. But for now, all they can think about is the 2004 American League Championship Series and what the Boston Red Sox once did to the New York Yankees.
“It’s a little frustrating, but we got to move past it,” Schwarber said. “We got to keep going. It’s been done before and this team’s done some special things throughout this whole season. So we don’t count ourselves out by any means.”