How Schwarber's walks set the stage for a big Cubs inning on Saturday
The subject of Chicago Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber and his .115 (3-for-26) batting average in July entering Saturday came up during manager Joe Maddon's pregame media session.
Maddon mentioned a remedy that he often mentions.
"Primarily just to accept his walks," Maddon said.
So what followed? Schwarber, the Cubs' leadoff hitter, walked twice in a 7-run first inning, and he doubled in the third and singled in the fifth as the Cubs beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-4 at Wrigley Field. Schwarber reached base a career-high-tying four times.
"He hits the ball hard," Maddon said. "The biggest thing with Kyle to me is to accept his walks. That's what really would get him going again more than anything. When we first put him back in the (leadoff) slot, if you look at the last month, I think he took more walks than he's on pace to get this month.
"I don't know that they're pitching him any differently. I just think it's how he's reacting to it. I've already spoken to him about it. If he could just focus on making sure pitchers are getting him out in the zone, I think that's primary and then to accept his walks. Then I think you'll see the product you're looking for."
After the game, Schwarber talked about his approach.
"I think just letting it come," he said. "I wouldn't say forcing it, just looking for a walk. The first inning, I get 3-0. He (pitcher Jordan Lyles) throws a strike, and I told myself, 'Just take another one.' If I get to 3-2, it's probably going to be another heater. He throws it right down the middle, gets to 3-2 and walks me."
The Cubs will recall right-hander Alec Mills from Class AAA Iowa to start Tuesday night against the Cincinnati Reds at Wrigley Field. Mills got into 7 games (2 starts) for the Cubs last year, going 0-1 with a 4.00 ERA. He is 6-2 with a 4.72 ERA at Iowa.
Lefty Cole Hamels threw from long distance on the outfield grass Saturday with no apparent discomfort. He is on the injured list with an oblique strain.
Feeling for the Angels:
Joe Maddon has roots in the Los Angeles Angels organization, so he said he was touched by the team honoring late pitcher Tyler Skaggs after Friday night's combined no-hitter by the Angels against Seattle.
Skaggs died July 1. His mother threw out a ceremonial first pitch before Friday's game, and Angels players wore Skaggs' uniform No. 45. After the game, players met at the mound and laid their jerseys on the ground.
"It's pretty phenomenal," Maddon said. "Pretty phenomenal. I'm very happy for them. I do have a soft spot. They gave me my first opportunity. I still argue with Arte (Angels owner Moreno) that they should be called the California Angels. Went through that several years ago. Very happy that they've been able to work through this to the point that they have. Tyler's family, our hearts go out them, also."