CINCINNATI -- Just moments before first pitch in Tuesday’s game between the Cubs and the Reds, Cubs manager David Ross was forced to do some last-minute shuffling to his lineup.
Yan Gomes was a late scratch with a tight left oblique, which moved first baseman Frank Schwindel down to the five spot in the order as the designated hitter. Coming off an impressive previous few days, the switch hardly broke Schwindel’s stride, as he delivered a 3-for-5 night with two home runs, powering Chicago to an 11-4 victory over the Reds in the second game of a four-game series at Great American Ball Park.
The Livingston, N.J., native has settled nicely into the middle of Chicago’s order this season, and Schwindel is starting to see the hard work he’s spent on his swing turn into results on the field.
“Great feeling, especially after putting a lot of hard work in lately,” said Schwindel, who is hitting .273 over his last 15 games. “[I’m] just looking to build off that, keep putting in the work in the cage and hopefully having a lot more results like that.”
In the first inning, Schwindel drove a fastball from Reds starting pitcher Tyler Mahle a Statcast-projected 361 feet out to right field, pushing the visiting Cubs out to an early 3-0 lead.
“Falling behind to Schwindel, that wasn't good,” Mahle said. “I threw a fastball when everyone in the world knew I was throwing one.”
Just two innings later, Schwindel got the best of Mahle once again, driving a clean base hit into center field. And in the fifth, he landed a final blow to the righty’s outing with his second blast of the night, this one 355 feet, but to a similar section in the right-field bleachers.
Schwindel is batting an impressive .409 at Great American Ball Park over his first three big league seasons. Tuesday’s performance also marked his first career multihomer game and gave him home runs in three out of his last four contests.
Schwindel’s impressive stretch began on Saturday, with a solo homer in the second inning off D-backs starter Madison Bumgarner, before following it up the very next day with a go-ahead home run in the eighth off Arizona’s Ian Kennedy. Both of his homers against the D-backs were pulled to left field, while both of his home runs in Cincinnati were hit the other way to right.
Ross said following the game that Schwindel has emphasized staying through the baseball and using the whole field during batting practice. Schwindel’s use of the entire field speaks volumes to his development as a Major League hitter.
“I think his timing just continues to get better and better every time you see him in the box,” Ross said. “He’s on a lot of pitches. I think staying on that breaking ball up the middle was really impressive as well.”
“Being able to [hit to the opposite field] means I’m doing a lot of things right … so definitely a good day,” Schwindel added. “[I’ll be] looking to build on that.”
As another power bat in the order to pair with Patrick Wisdom, Schwindel’s emergence has also paid dividends for the Cubs’ starting pitchers. Marcus Stroman struggled to find his command in the first inning Tuesday, but the early offense he was provided allowed him to work his way out of trouble and go deeper into the game.
Stroman has appreciated the one-two punch that Schwindel and Wisdom have provided.
“Those guys got some real serious pop,” Stroman said. “I think the other guys are going to feed off of that going into the next few games.”