How do you explain what Frank Schwindel has been doing over the last month, the last week?
You can’t. Seriously, you can’t, I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone be quite this hot AND come up with the key hit at the time his team needed it most.
Schwindel did it again on an absolutely gorgeous Monday afternoon at Wrigley Field, singling in Alfonso Rivas in the eighth inning with what turned out to be the decisive run in the Cubs’ 4-3 win over the Reds. The team now has a season-long seven-game winning streak.
As always, let’s rewind to the beginning of this well-played game.
Justin Steele allowed a two-out double in the first inning, but no runs, and then the Cubs got right to work. Rafael Ortega reached on what could have been a hit, but was tagged an error on Asdrubal Cabrera at first base (more on that odd first-base decision by the Reds later). Schwindel singled and Ian Happ deposited a baseball into the basket [VIDEO].
Basket shots don’t go very far, but they count just the same, and so the Cubs had a quick 3-0 lead.
Steele allowed a couple of baserunners in the second and fifth, but otherwise looked really good through the first five. I was a bit surprised when he was allowed to bat for himself in the fifth, but he had a relatively low pitch count at the time (65), so why not?
Bad idea, as it turned out. Steele was at one point visited on the mound by trainer PJ Mainville, but was allowed to stay in the game. Here’s one report on the trainer’s visit:
Green and Cubs trainer are out to check on Steele after a single and fly out to start the 5th for the Reds.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) September 6, 2021
Not clear what they were checking on, though Steele was hit by a comebacker to end the 3rd.
Effross is warming in the bullpen.
In the sixth, he issued a leadoff walk and a double. He then hit Eugenio Suarez to load the bases and Cabrera to force in a run. At that point he was removed for Codi Heuer.
Heuer got the three outs needed to end the inning, but wild-pitched in one run and with two out, pinch-hitter Max Schrock doubled down the left-field line, plating two runs and tying the game. On that play, though, give Happ a lot of credit for getting to the ball quickly and holding Cabrera at third base. That might have saved the game.
Another big round of credit is due Scott Effross, who threw the seventh and eighth. He allowed a one-out single in the seventh, but that runner was erased on a double play. All told, Effross recorded six outs on only 16 pitches. I like his sidearm/submarine repertoire, it’s a look most teams don’t have and so it keeps hitters off balance. In his four appearances for the Cubs so far, the only real mistake he made was a home run served up to Luis Robert of the White Sox. No shame there, Robert’s a really good hitter.
Anyway, the Reds brought in Michael Lorenzen to throw the eighth. The first hitter he faced was Alfonso Rivas and this, my friends, is a quality MLB at-bat:
Fouling off all those pitches, and then singling to right on a 97 mile per hour fastball — really good stuff from Rivas.
Ortega flied to right for the second out, during which Rivas took second on a wild pitch. That was really important, because then Frank the Tank drove Alfonso in [VIDEO].
That is a really nice piece of hitting, going the other way on a cutter. Again... I don’t get how Schwindel is doing all this, but the Cubs ought to ride it as long as they can.
The Cubs could not score further in the inning, and Adam Morgan was summoned to close things out because the Reds had lefthanded hitters coming up. Morgan retired the first two batters and then Joey Votto was sent up to bat for Lorenzen, announced to a loud chorus of boos.
Why was Votto not starting this game?
Scheduled day off for Reds 1B Joey Votto, who is batting .422 (19-for-45) with 8 HRs and 18 RBIs vs. Cubs this season.— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) September 6, 2021
So let me get this straight. Votto’s hitting like crazy against the Cubs all year and you, Reds manager David Bell, give him a scheduled day off ... against the Cubs? Sure, the Cubs have a lefthander going, and Votto doesn’t hit lefties that well (.655 OPS this year in 141 PA), but when a guy has another team’s number...
Anyway, Votto sat until the ninth, and on an 0-2 pitch, Morgan got him to end the game [VIDEO].
With the lower sun angle late in the season, that’s not an easy catch, but Ortega put it away and the Cubs had their seventh win in a row.
And at 2:45, the game time was nearly 90 minutes shorter than Sunday’s, and it the second-shortest nine-inning game at Wrigley Field this year.
Thus, the complaint department door is closed and locked up tight. These Cubs are playing loose and with confidence and it’s a great deal of fun to watch. And give some credit to the bullpen:
During the Cubs' season-high 7-game winning streak, the bullpen has a 0.51 ERA with two runs allowed in 35 innings.— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) September 6, 2021
Dare I say it? The Cubs will go for their eighth win in a row Tuesday evening at Wrigley Field. The last time any Cubs team won more than seven straight was in 2016, when that eventual World Series champion team won 11 in a row from July 31 - August 12.
Adrian Sampson, who threw a really nice game against the Reds in Cincinnati last month, gets the start for the Cubs Tuesday evening. Wade Miley is the scheduled starter for the Reds. Game time is 6:40 p.m CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.