Kyle Schwarber is a soft-spoken man, but the bat in his hands is loud as hell. With his team up only 1-0 — on a run he drove in — the rookie came to bat in the top of the 3rd with one out and Dexter Fowler on first. He looked as though he was sitting on a Gerrit Cole breaking pitch and when it came, well, Schwarber didn’t miss it.
I mean, he REALLY didn’t miss it. I’ve been talking for a while about how a guy can’t continue to hit balls with an exit velo over 100 mph and have nothing to show for it. Schwarber put just about everything he had into that swing and he turned the ball around at roughly 112, sending it flying almost 450 feet into the Allegheny. Or is it the Monongahela? Either way, Schwarber’s shot served to dam up a river of hope. Or, perhaps more appropriately, he damned that river.
Where once there had been a confluence of the confidence of the fans on both sides of the conflict, now there was but one river. And it was dyed Cubbie Blue. I had been Pervis Ellison through this whole postseason preamble, and it was no different heading into game time. But when the War Bear dropped that bomb on Cole and the Pirates, I knew the game was over.
Just watch that video again and look at how the kid turns on that pitch with bad intentions. Almost like he had a good idea of what the Bucs’ ace was going to do and was just sitting on it. The only chance the Pirates had was that it would go foul, but there’s no way it was going to defy Schwarber in that manner.
That hit was visceral. My response to it gave me a headache that persisted even hours later. That hit was beautiful. Its parabolic arc wrote the story of the game in the invisible letters of an ancient alphabet.
All the narratives heading into the game were about Arrieta vs. Cole, and that drama certainly played out. Pirates fans may choose to believe the man who thoroughly dominated there team was able to do so only with help from the home plate umpire, but let’s be honest. Even with the help of generous borderline calls, Cole threw Schwarber a hanger you could have hung a winter coat on.
The prospect of an on-his-game Arrieta is frightening enough for an opponent, but when you pair that with the thought that your own ace is off…well, that’s a confluence that forms the Ohio River of doubt (pay no attention to my earlier damming/damning). As such, Schwarber’s homer broke Pittsburgh. Sure, they rose to full throat when they threatened later in the game and Sean Rodriguez show some ill-timed fire when he took swings at the Cubs and a helpless Gatorade jug.
This team just has so many guys who can carry the load on any given day. On Wednesday night, Schwarber and Fowler provided more than enough offense for the best pitcher in baseball. Maybe it’ll be Rizzo and Bryant when the playoffs move to St. Louis. Or maybe it’ll be Chris Coghlan showing out in a reduced role. Or Javy Baez. Who knows? Who cares? All that matters is that the Cubs are moving on and Kyle Schwarber was a big part of that.