(CBS) Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber had an individual performance that he’d like to forget in his team’s 2-1 win in Game 3 of the National League Division Series on Monday at Wrigley Field.
His mere presence in the lineup still factored into the the key permutations and plays of the game, though.
With the Cubs down 1-0 to the Nationals with one out in the seventh inning, Schwarber was pinch-hit for when Nationals manager Dusty Baker called upon lefty reliever Sammy Solis to replace ace right-hander Max Scherzer with the tying run on second base. The reason Baker made the move to pull a dominant Scherzer, who was working on a one-hitter in his first start since tweaking his hamstring, was in large part because he feared the matchup against Schwarber.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon countered by pinch-hitting Albert Almora Jr. to get his preferred righty-on-lefty matchup, and Almora followed with the tying RBI single.
“We thought Max had had enough, especially coming off the injury,” Baker said. “Schwarber’s a dangerous man. I probably couldn’t live with myself if Schwarber had hit one out of the park on ya, which he’s famous to do that. So we thought we made the right decision. He got a changeup up to Almora, and they continue to get the clutch hits. We haven’t gotten them yet, but we will.”
An inning later, Anthony Rizzo’s bloop RBI single turned out to be be the winning hit and give Chicago a 2-1 series lead. That helped pick up the spirits of Schwarber, who error on a catchable fly ball in the sixth inning set up the Nationals’ lone run and had the Cubs trailing.
Baker was left to ponder whether he should’ve left Scherzer in. Scherzer went 6 1/3 innings, allowing one earned run on one hit while walking three and striking out seven.
“He was at 100 pitches, and he hadn’t been that far in awhile,” Baker said. “Like I said, Schwarber’s a dangerous hitter. If we made the pitch, we wouldn’t be talking about it. But sometimes you can’t throw the ball the way you want to throw it.”