It should come as no surprise that a man known to some as Khal Schwarber knows a little something about getting on his horse. What many didn’t expect was that he’d be doing so in order to run down a line drive to the gap in left-center. Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer had been praising the former high school all-state linebacker’s athleticism during Tuesday’s broadcast, but he really proved them right on Wednesday.
The 4-1 loss to the lowly Brewers didn’t provide much in the way of highlights, but it could have been really ugly had it not been for the converted catcher’s big play. With the bases loaded and only one out, Martin Maldonado got hold of a Justin Grimm fastball for what looked like a sure three-run double. Schwarber turned tail and sprinted flat-out toward the 368 marker in the alley, then extended his arm just as he was reaching the track, snagging the ball and taking a few stumbling strides before half-falling, half-rolling to the ground.
But that wasn’t even the best part. The right-handed-throwing Schwarber went down on his right side, allowing his momentum to carry his glove-hand back toward the field of play and centerfielder Dexter Fowler, who was now standing just a few feet away. Knowing that the runners would be advancing and that there was no way for him to recover in time, Schwarber flung the ball in the direction of his teammate, losing his glove in the process.
The glove itself went off to the side, almost like the fuel tanks separating from a space shuttle after launch, while the ball went right to the surprised Fowler. Was it luck? Sure. But the presence of mind Schwarber displayed in making this play was perhaps even more impressive than the husky-hustle he showed to get to the ball in the first place.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little scared as I watched his unfold though. As JD mentions in the broadcast, it looked for a moment as though the rookie was about to go headlong into the brick wall. And while the wall would likely have suffered a worse fate than Schwarber, I held my breath as I watched the play unfold. There’s also the matter of Schwarber’s last diving play in left, which may have been the cause of his rib injury a few weeks back.
All’s well that ends well though, right? And while the game itself was pretty much one big fart noise as far as the Cubs were concerned (Jorge Soler’s home run set aside, of course), this was a pretty fun reprieve.