Frank Schwindel has struggled for most of the 2022 season’s first two months, possibly as a result of back problems he suffered in Spring Training. In fact, he had been sent down to Triple-A Iowa, only to be recalled before ever making it to Des Moines.
Tuesday night in Cincinnati, Schwindel smashed two home runs, the first multi-homer game of his career, and wound up with three hits, three runs scored and three RBI, helping lead the Cubs to an 11-4 thrashing of the Reds, their third straight win.
The first two innings of this game took nearly an hour to complete. Sure, the score was 3-2 after the first inning, but several players on both sides had long at-bats and fouled off multiple pitches. Marcus Stroman threw 49 pitches through two innings, and not to be outdone, Reds starter Tyler Mahle had 53 offerings through two. Yikes.
The Cubs did plate three runs in the first. Christopher Morel, leading off for the first time in his brief MLB career, singled and moved to third on a single by Rafael Ortega. Seiya Suzuki made it 1-0 with a sac fly [VIDEO].
So it’s 3-0, but as noted above, the Reds came back with two of their own in the bottom of the first.
The score stayed that way until the top of the third. With one out, Schwindel and Patrick Wisdom singled, and that brought up Alfonso Rivas [VIDEO].
The ball rattled around in the right-field corner long enough for Rivas to dive head-first into third base with his first MLB triple, and the Cubs had their three-run lead back.
The Cubs put the game away in the fifth with a varied offense. First, Schwindel with his second homer of the game, again to the opposite field [VIDEO].
Those baseballs from Schwindel landed in almost the same spot. Schwindel’s season numbers still don’t look great, but since that almost-demotion to Iowa, Frank the Tank is hitting .273/.310/.546 (15-for-55) with three doubles and four home runs, and as you’ll recall, nearly had a fifth home run in San Diego that was caught at the wall. Those numbers will certainly play, if he can keep them up. For Schwindel, that makes four home runs in his last four games, and in his career at GABP he’s 9-for-22 (.409) with three doubles and the two homers.
Meanwhile, Wisdom’s home-run streak ended at four games, but he did go 2-for-5 on the night and scored twice.
Anyway, after Schwindel’s homer made the score 6-2 Cubs, Wisdom singled and Rivas walked, followed by an attempted bunt by P.J. Higgins. It was perfectly placed and Higgins outran Joey Votto to first base for a single that loaded the bases. Andrelton Simmons singled in two runs to make it 8-2 [VIDEO].
Higgins took third on the single and scored on this groundout by Morel [VIDEO].
Simmons took second on the out and advanced to third on a single by Ortega. Then Simmons scored the fifth run of the inning on this fielder’s choice by Suzuki [VIDEO].
Stroman finished off his outing with a 1-2-3 fifth. He wound up throwing 97 pitches (64 strikes), which is a lot for five innings. Twenty-six of those pitches were fouled off by Reds hitters, which helps explain the length of the first couple of innings.
Brandon Hughes relieved Stroman and threw a 1-2-3 sixth and then was replaced by Robert Gsellman. I thought David Ross might give four pitchers one inning each, but Gsellman helped save the pen by throwing the last three innings. He allowed a run in the eighth and another in the ninth, but by finishing the game and completing three innings, he recorded a save, his first since 2019.
There was one final Cubs run in this game, also in the ninth. With one out, Higgins was hit by a pitch and after Simmons singled (he also had a three-hit game), Morel was also HBP to load the bases. This fly to the wall in right by Ortega scored the 11th Cubs run [VIDEO].
A well-played and satisfying win for the Cubs, and Higgins remains undefeated as a starting catcher, 7-0 (5-0 in 2021, 2-0 this year).
The Cubs will go for a series win (and fourth straight win overall) Wednesday evening in Cincinnati, weather permitting (and it might not). Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and Luis Castillo is the Reds’ scheduled starter. Game time is again 5:40 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be via Marquee Sports Network.