MILWAUKEE — Kyle Schwarber didn't rely simply on his power to beat the Brewers Sunday afternoon at Miller Park.
He also leaned on his speed and hustle, legging out an infield hit in the sixth inning to set the stage for Victor Caratini's 3-run pinch-hit homer as the Cubs pulled together a much-needed 11-4 victory over Milwaukee.
Schwarber gave the Cubs an early lead in the top of the second inning, obliterating the first offering he saw from Kyle Davies into the upper deck in right field for a grand slam:
We would now like some cheese to go with our grand salami. pic.twitter.com/pFa6H7WH2h— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) July 28, 2019
That 473-foot shot goes down as the longest grand slam in Statcast history.
Then came a three-run shot to left-center to extend the lead to 7-0:
Ah, yes. Your run-of-the-mill seven RBIs before the fifth inning, courtesy of Kyle Schwarber. Nothing to see here. pic.twitter.com/0OB4RTch1o— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) July 28, 2019
After the Brewers mounted a bit of a comeback against Jose Quintana in the bottom of the fifth inning to pull within a swing of the bat, Schwarber's hustle extended the ensuing frame to allow for Caratini's dinger and some crucial breathing room for a much-maligned Cubs bullpen.
With the big day, Schwarber becomes the first Cubs player with a 3-run shot and grand slam in the same game since Derrek Lee turned the trick on July 2, 2009 against the Brewers:
Kyle Schwarber: first #Cubs player with a 3-run HR & grand slam in the same game since Derrek Lee 7/2/2009 vs Brewers— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) July 28, 2019
The final line of the day for Schwarber: 3-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch, 4 runs and 7 RBI.
Just like that, he's on pace for 37 homers and 83 RBI on the season.
In the previous 36 games (30 starts) before Sunday, Schwarber was hitting just .192 with a .687 OPS. That includes an 0-for-15 stretch dating back to Monday's game in which he hit a homer in San Francisco.
"That was a tough couple games for me," Schwarber said. "To be able to snap out of it there and put together a pretty good day, it's definitely a positive thing going into the off-day. Have some good thoughts, get some rest and then roll into St. Louis ready to go."
His manager agreed.
"He's gonna definitely feel better about himself," Joe Maddon said. "It's been a tough July for him overall. Good start, but that's just one game. We gotta keep doing this on a consistent basis and as we do that, we'll see where it takes us. But definitely a step in the right direction."
The win knocks the Brewers back down to third place in the NL Central while the Cubs move back into a first-place tie with the Cardinals. That's a crazy thought given how the first two games of the weekend in Milwaukee went with the Cubs blowing late leads.
Now Schwarber and Co. move on to St. Louis for a big three-game series with those Cardinals, with the winner likely moving into sole possession atop the division.
"We control our own destiny," Schwarber said. "We gotta be able to go out there and play our baseball and execute our game. We played some really good baseball even though some things didn't go our way, but we're still playing good ball. We just gotta be able to keep carrying that through the rest of the season.
"I wouldn't say it's been a weird season, there's just been ups and downs. This group, the way that we handle it is second to none. And that's why we all love this group. The way that we come in and we want to take care of business every day and we have that mindset. I always say, I feel like we're one of the most prepared teams when we step on the field and I mean it.
"That's what makes this team special. It's no secret that the division's gotten better. Everyone's gotten better. But we're a really good team. When we're playing our baseball, it's hard to beat us."