Kyle Schwarber saves his anger for the baseball Cubs rally to top Red Sox (1:08)
Chicago scores the final five runs of the game to beat Boston 7-4. (1:08)
9:57 PM ET
BOSTON — Considering his earnest demeanor and body type, you might think Chicago Cubs leadoff man Kyle Schwarber would turn into the Incredible Hulk when things don’t go his way at the plate. But as manager Joe Maddon said before Saturday’s game against the Boston Red Sox, there is no place for anger when another plate appearance is around the corner.
So when Schwarber stepped into the batter’s box in the seventh inning of a 4-4 tie, he kept his composure.
The result was a lefty-on-lefty bloop to center that plated the go-ahead run in the Cubs’ 7-4 win. It was a needed base hit from a struggling hitter.
Kyle Schwarber’s go-ahead RBI bloop single in the seventh couldn’t have come at a better time for the struggling Cubs leadoff hitter. Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports”Once you step up to the next at-bat, it’s a new at-bat,” Schwarber said afterward. “You have to forget what happened.”
Schwarber has had a lot to forget lately as he’s climbed the MLB leaderboard in strikeouts. In just 1 1/2 games in Boston, Schwarber had already struck out six times. Between seeing left-handed pitching and knuckleball starter Steven Wright, it wasn’t exactly the easiest two days for him.
“That’s some funky stuff,” Schwarber said of Wright’s pitching.
The Cubs finally knocked Wright out of the game as Red Sox skipper John Farrell called on — you guessed it — a lefty to face Schwarber with the go-ahead run at second base.
“I got to see them last [Friday] night,” Schwarber said of the Red Sox left-handers. “You have them fresher in mind. You know what they’re going to come at you with.
“It was a grinder at-bat. It’s straight battle mode. Put the pressure on the defense. Flip it out where they’re not. I’ll take it.”
Schwarber hit a 0-2 pitch into center as Jon Jay raced home. For the Cubs’ World Series hero, that bloop was as good as any hard-hit ball. All of a sudden Schwarber likes how he’s trending. A bases-loaded flyout to left one inning later didn’t diminish his enthusiasm. He hit hard, which is all he’s asking for these days.
“Feel like things are progressively starting to climb where I want it to be,” Schwarber said.
See the difference two at-bats can provide for a hitter’s confidence? Midway through the game there was little to cheer for when Schwarber came to the plate, but after each strikeout he never got angry. Instead, he simply analyzed.
“It’s more assessing the at-bat,” he said. “You move on to the next. … A lot of people have had slow starts. All I can keep doing is trying to grind through it.”
If you think Schwarber’s .211 batting average is a result of him hitting leadoff, think again. He’s not buying it.
“You can struggle anywhere,” he said. “You can’t blame it on the spot in the order you’re hitting at. People will go through these kinds of periods throughout the season.”
What makes Schwarber so special? His hitting coach thinks it’s a simple answer.
“It’s about helping the team,” John Mallee said. “That’s what it’s about. He’s such a team guy. … He’s a true pro. It’s not about him.”
On Sunday, Schwarber will climb the steps to Fenway Park’s Green Monster so he can check something off his bucket list. He’ll then take his familiar place as the Cubs’ leadoff hitter, attempting to distance himself from an April slump on the final day of the month. Saturday’s late-inning heroics were a good start. And it was drive, not anger, which fueled him.
“I love that he’s not beaten by it,” Maddon said. “He gets upset with himself, which I’m good with. It’s not anger, though.”
He usually saves that for the baseball.
Kyle Schwarber saves his anger for the baseball