PHILADELPHIA – About the time it was sinking in to a dugout full of teammates and more than 22,000 people in the stadium that Kyle Schwarber had just belted the first two pitches he saw Friday night over the wall two of the deepest parts of the park, Schwarber fell on his face.
He slipped on the bag rounding first and went splat, tried to be cool, finished his jog with a smirk and took an expanded-roster full of grief once he got back to the dugout.
“It was hilarious,” teammate Kris Bryant said. “It’s just like we’re so young and we don’t really care about anything. Seeing him do that – go big, first pitch, hitting a homer and then first pitch in his second at-bat. … We’re so young. It’s just what we do.”
Face-plants and all.
Maybe that’s how all these rookies are continuing to do all these big things for these upstart, world-beating young Cubs. They just keep swinging the bat, playing the game and not bothering to notice where they’re going.
The Cubs swept the Phillies in Friday’s doubleheader, 5-1 and 7-3 — with rookies combining for three home runs and nine of the team’s 14 RBIs.
Schwarber doesn’t have so much as a third of a major-league season to his name, and his two homers in the Cubs’ 7-3 victory in Friday’s second game of a doubleheader sweep gave him 15, with 41 RBIs. In 51 games.
Between Dexter Fowler’s second-half rebirth and Schwarber batting second in the lineup behind Fowler since his July 17 callup, the Cubs have been a different team offensively.
“Those two guys back-to-back have pretty much kick-started our offense,” manager Joe Maddon said.
But it’s the whole rookie crew. Addison Russell, the second baseman in April, turned shortstop in August, started hitting home runs in recent weeks – including a huge, three-run shot in a series-opening statement victory over the Cardinals in St. Louis on Monday.
Bryant, the rookie third baseman, who has played more outfield in the last week, delivered four RBIs in the two games Friday – breaking the Cubs’ rookie record while reaching 90 in just 130 games.
“It’s something cool, just given the history of the Cubs and looking back on that and seeing how many people have played for this team,” said Bryant, who broke the record he shared with Billy Williams (1961) and Geovany Soto (2008) – both of whom won the NL Rookie of the Year award. “It’s definitely a huge honor and gives me an extra boost of confidence heading into the rest of the season.”
His two-run homer in the fifth inning of Friday’s nightcap was his 24th of the season, and gave the Cubs a 6-1 lead – just five days after he hit the longest home run by a major-leaguer this season, off the new left-field video board at Wrigley Field.
“I wouldn’t say I’m surprised, but it’s pretty remarkable,” second-year starting pitcher Kyle Hendricks said of all the rookie firepower helping the Cubs get into playoff position down the stretch. “You would think maybe they’d take a step back here or there, but they just keep hitting.
“It’s fun to watch, especially for how young they are just coming up, first year like this – it’s unbelievable.”
Bryant (April 17), Russell (April 21) and Schwarber (June 16) all made their big-league debuts this year. Bryant had barely a year of minor-league experience at the time, Schwarber less than a year.
“I’m sure the league will figure us out, and we’ll struggle here,” Bryant said. “but it worked for [Schwarber] today.”
As long as they keep getting up when they fall.
“It was pretty funny,” admitted Schwarber, whose phone quickly filled up with texts. “A lot of `Watch out for snipers.’
“I tried to do the safe sign, and I had to get up and run.”