Cubs rookie Kyle Schwarber watches his fifth-inning home run reach the seats -- the first of two he hit Thursday in a 9-2 win over the Brewers.

Rookie monsters: Young Cubs lead way to homestand sweep

SHARE Rookie monsters: Young Cubs lead way to homestand sweep
SHARE Rookie monsters: Young Cubs lead way to homestand sweep

Cubs manager Joe Maddon said this was coming. He said the 23-and-under kids, the four starting rookies on this burgeoning team, were going to catch a collective second wind.

Whether they can keep it up for a final, 49-game stretch of big-league playoff heat that none of them has experienced will have a lot to say about whether the Cubs can finish off this playoff push.

But check out the bite they’ve taken out of the early dog days of August:

When rookie Kyle Schwarber homered twice to lead a power-driven 9-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday, the Cubs closed out a seven-game homestand sweep of the Giants and Brewers – their first unbeaten homestand of that length since the 2008 playoff season.

Veterans Dexter Fowler, Anthony Rizzo and Chris Denorfia all added home runs to back a fourth consecutive win for Jon Lester (8-8).

And Fowler and Rizzo in particular have been big parts of the offensive resurgence the last two weeks that has led to a 13-1 run the Cubs take into Round II of this year’s Cubs-Sox rivalry this weekend.

But the story of the weeklong set of home games was a glimpse of the bigger story the fourth-year front office hopes to tell in epic form over the next few years.

In the seven-game homestand, rookies Schwarber, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Jorge Soler combined to hit .309 (30-for-97) with five homers, six doubles, a .387 on-base percentage and .526 slugging percentage.

“In today’s game to have this many young players contributing like they are [is uncommon],” Maddon said. “And some of them having to go through tough times and come back, that’s the part I really dig.

“It’s not all perfect all the time. They’ve been really good and then they’ve gotten cold. But they haven’t caved. That’s how this game works. That’s the part that’s really impressive to me.”

Of the 40 runs the Cubs scored during the homestand, 25 were driven in by the rookies and 22 were scored by them.

“Right now it feels like we’re in a playoff game every day, and that’s the mindset that we need to have,” said Schwarber, whose big game Thursday followed three hitless ones.

“I was struggling a little bit,” he said, “and kind of slowed it down, trying to get some good pitches and stay in the zone, and that’s what happened.”

Schwarber bookended his 8-for-27 homestand with power displays, including a three-run shot a week earlier to help beat the Giants in the opener of that four-game series.

“It’s good to see how these guys have developed and really come into their own and not let the stage get too big for them,” said Lester, who struck out 10 in six innings to help mitigate the Brewers’ aggressive running game early.

“They’re just having fun playing baseball, and it’s been kind of a breath of fresh air for me to be around these younger guys and see how they go about their business.”

Their business? “I’m just trying to keep my head buried and not even try to look at it,” said Schwarber, who has made a profound impact on a stutter-step lineup since getting a second callup from the minors at the All-Star break.

He’s hitting .330 with eight homers, 14 walks and a 1.041 OPS in 31 games overall this season.

“It just lengthens your lineup,” said Lester, who benefitted from years of deep, powerful lineups during a seven-year stretch with Boston that included four playoff runs and two World Series titles.

“You go back and you look at great lineups. When you can have guys like Rizzo hitting in the 4 hole, sometimes the 5 hole, the pitcher doesn’t have a break until he gets closer to the bottom of the lineup. It just makes our lineup so much stronger.”

There are no guarantees of continued production over this final stretch, especially when it comes to kids who have never been through this before.

But Lester talked early last week about the value of playing “stupid” and “naïve.” And Schwarber seemed on board when he said he believes the youth can be an asset.

“And maybe if we do get to the real thing [in October], we have the guys, the veterans, like David Ross and Jon Lester who have been there before,” he said. “They’ll be there to help control the nerves and just be able to prepare us for what’s going to be ahead.”

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