Acting Cubs manager Andy Green must have looked into a crystal ball.
“As long as Frank Schwindel keeps hitting home runs, we’ll be OK,” Green said Saturday morning.
He wasn’t kidding. Schwindel’s latest home run made all the difference in Sunday’s win over the Pirates.
The Cubs trailed 8-7 when Schwindel came up with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning. With how the first baseman is swinging the bat these days, it felt like he would do something big.
Schwindel dropped a go-ahead — and ultimately game-winning — grand slam into the first row of the left-center field bleachers.
“He’s got a good bat. That’s what's going on,” Green said of Schwindel. “The shadows are so hard to hit at that time of day. You could see it from the swings everybody else was taking once shadows came out.
“Frank was great again. That’s a huge hit, a huge swing.”
It’s just the latest instance where Schwindel has done something big in a Cubs uniform. He played hero in Saturday’s win over Pittsburgh, diving into first base to beat out a groundball on a walk-off infield single.
“It’s just unbelievable,” Schwindel said. “This is probably the most fun I've ever had playing baseball these last couple days.”
It doesn’t hurt that Sunday was the Cubs’ sixth straight win, tied for their longest winning streak of the season (May 23-29).
But Schwindel is also putting together his best extended individual run at the big-league level. He bumped his season averages with the Cubs to .370/.419/.706 on Sunday. He’s up to 10 home runs and 29 RBIs in 32 games.
Is this as locked in as he’s been in his baseball career?
“I've had a couple of good weeks like this but obviously being at the big-league level,” Schwindel said, "winning games with the Chicago Cubs, there's nothing better than this. So obviously any good feeling I've had, this tops that.
“Obviously baseball is a streaky game and sometimes you feel this good, and you don't get the knocks. Then sometimes you feel worse and you end up squeaking some out.
“I'm feeling pretty good. I think I'm swinging at some good pitches and good things are happening.”
It happened Sunday with a contingent of Schwindel’s high school friends from his home state of New Jersey in the stands at Wrigley Field. They were rocking custom “Schwindy City” t-shirts, one of Schwindel’s nicknames, and had Schwindel fathead cutouts.
“They’re probably having more fun than me,” he said. “They’re high-fiving all the fans.”
Chants of “Frank the Tank,” another Schwindel nickname, echoed across Wrigley during the game.
“I just call him Tank. It’s simple,” said teammate Matt Duffy, who hit two home runs Sunday, including a grand slam.
“Especially with the way he’s swinging it, I think Tank Schwindel is all you need.”
Whether you prefer one nickname or another, Schwindel — who a month ago was an unknown name to fans following the Cubs trade deadline selloff — is making a name for himself on the North Side.
“Two days ago, we were walking around, and people had no idea,” he said of whether people recognize him on the streets.
“[Saturday], a couple high fives walking down Waveland [Ave.], a couple of pictures with people, a couple autographs.
“It was a lot of fun. It was cool because I’m not obviously not used to any of that.”
If Sunday is any indication, Schwindel mania isn't going away anytime soon.