MILWAUKEE -- It was hard to blame Kyle Schwarber for taking a moment to admire his work in the second inning on Sunday. His grand slam to the back of Miller Park's second deck in right field allowed both him and the Cubs as a whole to let out a
MILWAUKEE -- It was hard to blame Kyle Schwarber for taking a moment to admire his work in the second inning on Sunday. His grand slam to the back of Miller Park's second deck in right field allowed both him and the Cubs as a whole to let out a deep breath after so many high-stress innings and games this week.
Schwarber's tape-measure shot -- one of two home runs in a seven-RBI performance for the outfielder -- powered an 11-4 romp over the Brewers. The Cubs can now feel a bit more relaxed heading into Monday's off-day, knowing that another critical series begins on Tuesday. The Cardinals and Cubs are tied atop the National League Central as they square off at Busch Stadium. The Brewers are one game back in the standings.
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"That was a really big game for all of us there," Schwarber said. "We had a couple tough ones. To be able to go ahead and come out on top here and have the day off, we'll go into St. Louis ready to go."
Schwarber's grand slam was unlike any other in the five years Statcast has been tracking data. The blast off Brewers righty Zach Davies checked in at 473 projected feet, making it the longest slam in Statcast history.
Schwarber's eyes widened when he learned that bit of information.
"Sick," he said. "I'm surprised to hear that, because I've seen other guys go up there before."
The grand slam was also the longest home run of the year by a Cubs hitter, the farthest shot this season at Miller Park and tied for the 12th-longest homer of any kind in MLB in 2019. Yankees slugger Gary Sanchez held the previous mark for longest grand slam recorded by Statcast with his 467-foot homer on April 27.
With one out in the second, Javier Báez and Jason Heyward got things going with consecutive singles before Ian Happ set the stage for Schwarber by drawing a walk to load the bases. That rally ahead of Schwarber's shot stood out to manager Joe Maddon, who has stressed all season that his lineup needs to do more to create runs rather than wait for a homer.
"I love that. I want us to play baseball," Maddon said. "I don't want us to do this new wave, analytical baseball that just tries to put balls in the seats all the time. I want baseball properly played and I want us to be fundamentally sound. And that includes offense, too."
In the three-game series in Milwaukee, the Cubs scored 15 of their 16 runs via homers. Entering Sunday, Chicago had scored nearly half its runs on home runs (49.1 percent, seventh-highest rate in the Majors).
"I don’t think we're all going out there just trying to hit home runs," Schwarber said. "We want to be able to get guys on base and still manufacture runs, too. We want to be known as a complete team on the offensive side."
Schwarber entered the afternoon mired in a 2-for-24 slump, leading Maddon to drop him to eighth in the lineup on Saturday and again on Sunday. Schwarber was also 3-for-23 in his career against Davies, but two of those hits were home runs. He upped that total to four by the end of the afternoon.
"That first pitch to Schwarber I liked, the one he hit the grand slam on, up and in," Davies said. "But leaving guys on base for him, giving him the opportunity to drive in runs, that’s going to happen."
The grand slam gave the Cubs a 4-0 lead and was the 23rd shot of the season for Schwarber, who now has two slams in his career. As a team, Chicago has belted a NL-leading seven slams this year. Only the Astros (10) have more on the season. It marks the most slams in one season for the Cubs since recording seven in 2008.
In the fourth inning, Davies sent a 1-2 sinker tailing outside the strike zone, but Schwarber made solid contact and lifted the pitch to left field for his 24th homer of the year. That three-run shot gave Chicago a 7-0 lead and made Schwarber only the 25th Cubs player (done 31 times) since at least 1908 to have at least two homers and seven RBIs in a single game.
After each blast, when Schwarber eventually returned to left field for defense, he was greeted with a noticeable standing ovation by the Cubs fans in attendance.
With two outs and a runner on first in the sixth, Schwarber reached first just ahead of the throw from second baseman Keston Hiura for an infield single. That kept the inning alive for Victor Caratini, who belted a pinch-hit three-run homer to right field to give Chicago a commanding 10-3 advantage.
"That's just one game," Maddon reminded. "We've got to keep doing this on a consistent basis. And as we do that, we'll see where it takes us. It's definitely a step in the right direction."
Jordan Bastian covers the Cubs for MLB.com. He previously covered the Indians from 2011-18 and the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian.