If there has been a theme for the Cubs this season, it has been relatively unknown players coming up and making an impact on the major-league roster.
Patrick Wisdom’s insane power surge started the trend. Rafael Ortega’s post-All-Star-break offensive breakout has continued it. But there’s another player trying to make a name for himself.
Frank Schwindel had the tall task of being the player to replace longtime first baseman Anthony Rizzo after the trade deadline. Schwindel, who was claimed off waivers from the A’s on July 18, hasn’t looked fazed in his brief stint with the Cubs and has started to show some promise.
“Obviously, nobody can replace [Rizzo],” Schwindel said before Saturday’s 5-4 loss to the Marlins, the Cubs’ 10th straight defeat. “He’s obviously an unbelievable player. Gold Glove, All-Star and obviously he’s one of the most liked guys in the city.”
Schwindel has had high-level success at the plate since joining the Cubs, and over the last week he has had a strong approach. The first baseman is slashing .381/.422/.714 with three homers and 12 RBI in 13 games with the Cubs.
Schwindel was back in the spotlight in the eighth inning Saturday. With the bases loaded, two outs and the Cubs down by two runs, he continued his red-hot stretch.
He lined a bases-clearing double into the left-field corner to give the Cubs a 4-3 lead. But the Marlins scored two unearned runs in the bottom half to take a 5-4 lead.
“He’s put the barrel on the ball,” manager David Ross said. “I thought he’s done a really nice job of knowing what he does well. Being ready to hit. ... I think he’s been a real bright spot since he’s come up.”
Davies solid despite rough sixth inning
Starter Zach Davies struggled mightily in his start against the White Sox last week. But he had a strong effort against the Marlins. Davies worked quickly, controlled both sides of the plate and was able to get quick outs as he rolled through Miami’s lineup.
The right-hander got through 5⅔ innings without virtually any damage and with a 1-0 lead. But after a two-out walk to Jesus Aguilar, the game changed.
Davies got the two-out grounder he needed to get out of the inning, but after shortstop Sergio Alcantara fielded the ball in the hole, he tossed it into right field attempting to get the force at second base. It was the first of three errors on the night for Alcantara — accounting for all five unearned runs for the Marlins in the game.
The next batter, Brian Anderson, launched a towering three-run homer to give the Marlins a 3-1 lead before Schwindel’s late heroics. Davies struck out seven over six innings.
“Knowing how aggressive this team is going through the game-plan meeting before the game, the idea was to get strike one,” Davies said. “They’re gonna swing. They’re gonna put the ball in play. [Wanted to] get ahead of guys so you’re not in hitters’ counts, and throwing the ball where I want to and getting ground balls.”