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Cubs 6, Pirates 5: Frank Schwindel does it again

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The new Cubs first baseman’s homer was the difference in the game.

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Frank Schwindel might or might not be a long-term piece for the Chicago Cubs. His career up to this year would say no, and it’s probably too early to say “yes” or “no.”

But Frank is certainly making the most of the chance he’s getting to play first base every day for two months with the Cubs. He homered again Friday, his fourth in the last five games, and that sixth-inning blast proved to be the game-winner as the Cubs defeated the Pirates 6-5 for the second day in a row, their fourth straight victory.

The Cubs had a chance to score in the first inning when Michael Hermosillo doubled and went to third on a Schwindel single. One out later, Matt Duffy tried to squeeze Hermosillo home [VIDEO].

It wasn’t a bad idea, but Duffy’s ball didn’t go far enough and Hermosillo was tagged out.

The Cubs put together a three-run second. Alfonso Rivas and Sergio Alcántara walked with one out and Alec Mills sacrificed both runners up.

Hermosillo brought them both in [VIDEO].

The Pirates threw home instead of hitting the cutoff man, which allowed Hermosillo to take second, where Schwindel singled him in [VIDEO].

Check out the end of that video where Schwindel signals the dugout. If Schwindel ever does become a regular or star, “Schwindel Face” is going to become a thing, he’s got great facial expressions.

The Cubs added a run int he third. Duffy walked and advanced to second on a single by Ian Happ. Austin Romine made it a 4-0 game [VIDEO].

Nice piece of hitting the other way by Romine.

And then in the fourth, Hermosillo made it 5-0 [VIDEO].

That was Hermosillo’s first Wrigley Field home run, which had to be a thrill for a local kid who grew up a Cubs fan.

5-0. What could possibly...

Well, plenty, since the Cubs still aren’t really that good a team. Mills mowed down the Pirates for the first four innings, then allowed back-to-back home runs to Anthony Alford and Hoy Park leading off the fifth. Alford’s hit Waveland in front of the first house on the north side of the street.

Still, it’s 5-2, and...

Mills got in trouble in the sixth thanks to a couple of errors, one on a line drive that Patrick Wisdom couldn’t handle, another when Alcántara airmailed a possible double-play relay into the first-base dugout. Alford then smashed his second homer of the day and the game was tied 5-5.

On that double-play relay, acting Cubs manager Andy Green got himself tossed when he came out of the dugout to argue that the runner at second interfered with Alcántara, and he had a point [VIDEO].

I was surprised that wasn’t sent to review — that sort of thing can be reviewed. Despite the bad fifth inning, I thought Mills threw pretty well, all things considered,

Schwindel untied the game with one out in the sixth [VIDEO].

And after that it was up to the Cubs bullpen, which did an outstanding job. Megill got out of the sixth with a strikeout and threw a 1-2-3 seventh, a good sign from him as he’d had a tough time this year up to now. Codi Heuer did the same in the eighth and Rowan Wick, who’d had some bad luck Thursday night, was sent right back for a save opportunity in this one and he made the most of it, striking out all three hitters he faced on just 11 pitches. That’s save number 2 for Wick, and I do think that the Cubs want to see this combination, Heuer as the primary setup man and Wick closing, at least for the rest of this year.

Remember how good all those Cubs now-traded relievers were early in the year? That’s happening again:

As for Schwindel? Since he joined the Cubs he’s played in 30 games and hit safely in 25 of them, and posted these numbers: .345/.395/.655 with eight doubles, a triple, eight home runs and 23 RBI, all good for a 175 wRC+. Small sample size, to be sure, 110 at-bats and 119 plate appearances, but... who knows? Maybe the Cubs have found another good hitter on the scrap heap. It happens. Why not to the Cubs?

It felt like fall at Wrigley Field Friday, with temps in the low 70s and light rain falling throughout almost the entire game. The Cubs, obviously, go home after the regular season this year, but this team is starting to play together and having fun, enjoyable games, and yes, I get that they have just defeated a team that is well on its way to 100 losses. But wins are wins.

The Cubs go for three straight over Pittsburgh and five in a row overall Saturday afternoon at Wrigley. Kyle Hendricks is the scheduled Cubs starter. At this writing the Pirates starter is still listed as “TBD.” Game time is again 1:20 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.