A return to National League play means no more designated hitter, which allowed the Cubs to get Kyle Schwarber extra at-bats against the White Sox.
But Schwarber regained his stroke as he capped an impressive weekend by smacking a 444-foot home run and an RBI double off left-hander Carlos Rodon on Sunday in helping the Cubs coast to a 6-1 win over the Sox.
“That home run was classic Schwarber,” said manager Joe Maddon, who elected to start Schwarber in the outfield only because Kris Bryant was sidelined with left shoulder fatigue.
Nevertheless, Schwarber is 4-for-5 with two walks in his return after missing nine games with back tightness.
Schwarber hit his 26th home run of the season and first off a left-hander.
“It’s not a big deal,” Schwarber said. “I’ll take a home run and a double if it’s off a sidearm right-hander or standard pitcher.”
Schwarber played flawlessly in left field in a rare start in the field in an American League park.
Manager Joe Maddon and players Kyle Hendricks, Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant discuss the Cubs’ win over the White Sox on Sept. 23, 2018, at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. (Mark Gonzales / Chicago Tribune)
Schwarber’s improvement over last season caught Bryant’s attention.
“Last year was a little different, but he’s put in the work and got his body and mind right and came up on top,” Bryant said. “It’s nice to see him turn it around. I’m super happy for him.”
Innings eater: By going 16 1/3 innings over his last two starts, Kyle Hendricks has reached a career high of 191 innings this season.
“This has been a different end of the season for me, going this deep into games back to back,” Hendricks said. “It’s a product of having a good lead and making good pitches, and pitching to contact is a priority of mine.”
Hendricks did not walk a batter for the 10th time in 32 starts. Maddon credited Hendricks’ use of a curve to make his fastball and changeup more effective. Hendricks is 3-1 with a 1.68 ERA over his last five starts.