PITTSBURGH — Kyle Schwarber certainly didn't permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure.
The rookie masher did what he does best, driving in the first three runs as the Cubs dismantled the Pirates, 4-0, in the National League wild-card game in front of 40,889 fans at PNC Park.
Schwarber got the start in Joe Maddon's unconventional lineup, playing right field, a position he's only been at a handful of times in his professional career.
But the move paid off as Schwarber fought off a two-strike pitch from Gerrit Cole to put the Cubs on top, 1-0, in the first inning and then dropped the hammer with a two-run blast that nearly splashed into the Allegheny River beyond right field in the third inning.
"Oh man, that was magestic," Cubs catcher David Ross said. "He hit that ball and I couldn't even celebrate because I wanted to see how far it went. He's a beast."
It was all Jake Arrieta and the Cubs needed as the ace continued his masterful season with a complete game shutout, striking out 11 Pirates hitters and allowing just four singles.
On offense, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo combined to go 0-for-7 with a walk, but the top of the order did all the damage.
Beyond Schwarber, Dexter Fowler became the first Cubs player to hit a homer, steal a base, collect three hits and score three runs in a postseason game.
As Maddon says to Fowler all the time — "you go, we go." The 29-year-old leadoff hitter proved that again Wednesday, leading the game off with a base hit and coming around to score on Schwarber's base hit a few pitches later.
Schwarber had actually been struggling the last month-plus of the season, hitting just .177 with a .655 OPS in 33 games dating back to Aug. 20. That followed his ridiculous start to his big-league career (1.021 OPS through 36 games).
Schwarber actually closed out the regular season without an extra-base hit in his last nine games (26 at-bats).
But that all changed once the postseason rolled in.
"I know the struggles are going to happen," Schwarber said. "It's baseball. It's a crazy game that goes up and down. You've just got to try to find a way to be even keel throughout it all.
"The atmosphere today, it was live. It's a playoff game and you're going to be locked in."
Schwarber might have been even-keeled on the field, but he actually admitted that he was nervous leading up to the game.
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"The nerve really hit (Tuesday) night when I was watching the American League wild-card game because I realized that was going to be us and in less than 24 hours," he said. "Then coming out to the ballpark, there are butterflies and listening to the national anthem and listening to the crowd roar, there is going to be butterflies.
"But once that first pitch happens, it's game time. It's time to go. Everything starts to slow down from then. You feel so sped up when you're spectating and then once you step onto the field, you slow it down."
How, exactly, does one do that?
It's not just one rookie like Schwarber. It's every young player on the Cubs team rising above the moment — Addison Russell shrugging off an error to turn a double play on the next batter; Bryant playing flawless defense at two different positions.
"We have a great group here," Bryant said. "We just have a lot of fun. That's what it's about — have fun, don't let the pressure affect you.
"Joe says it best — never let the pressure exceed the pleasure. I think that's the best saying. That should be the title of our book."