CHICAGO – With young baseball players, sometimes all it takes is a little patience and perseverance – from the player and the team.
Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber are prime examples with the Cubs. Both enjoyed and endured their share of downs during their young careers.
Both have been riding high of late, and both came through in big ways Wednesday as the Cubs turned the tables on the Oakland Athletics. Less than 24 hours after being drubbed, 11-4, by the A’s, the Cubs returned the favor with a 10-1 victory Wednesday at Wrigley Field.
The Cubs took two of three in the series and improved to 62-52 as they head out on the road, where victories have been hard to come by.
Happ hit a grand slam in the Cubs’ five-run fourth inning after starting pitcher Jose Quintana gave up a run in the top half. It was Happ’s second career grand slam and his second homer of the series.
Schwarber, who has been hot lately, hit a three-run homer to left field during the Cubs’ four-run fifth.
“They’re still young,” manager Joe Maddon said. “They’re very young. They’re going to go through some growing pains, and they’re not done going through their growing pains, either.
“That’s the whole point. We’ve done a lot over the last several years with a lot of young guys. They have experience, but they’re still youthful. Leagues adjust. The way the game is played today via computers and analytics and whatever, if you have a problem at all, it’s going to be exposed immediately, and if a pitcher knows what he’s doing, he could go right to that problem area.
“These guys have a lot more to battle against, right down to the defenses. This team today [Oakland] did not shift [against] our lefties as much. They were a little bit more old school.
“So the hitters walked up there with a different vision, which is a positive for them, also. So when it really comes to the development of a young hitter, just be a little bit more patient based on all the factors working against them.”
This year had been particularly hard on Happ, who spent most of the past two seasons with the Cubs but was sent to Triple-A Iowa at the end of spring training. The Cubs called him back July 26, and Maddon gave him a start at second base Wednesday.
Happ is 6 for 10 in his past four games.
“I think a lot of it is just having confidence in yourself,” he said. “I’ve kind of been saying that over and over. It’s believing in yourself, believing you can do it. I was really excited to get back and be with these guys again.”
Schwarber’s homer was his 26th of the season and 98th of his career. He has 60 RBIs and an OPS of .825. His hot hitting of late (7 for 12 in his past six games) came after he batted .184 in July.
“You’ve just got to keep going,” he said. “It’s just part of the game. If you’re just able to stay right in the middle, good things will happen.”
Quintana (10-7) worked seven innings of two-hit ball as his ERA dropped from 4.40 to 4.23. He earned his career-high sixth straight victory, tying Kyle Hendricks for the longest streak by a Cubs pitcher this season.
“It’s a classic illustration of the power of 24 hours, not even quite 24 hours,” Maddon said of the turnabout. “Pretty much the exact opposite game that we played [Tuesday]. It’s called baseball. Quintana was primarily responsible for that. Of course, Happ and Schwarber did their share, but the way Q pitched permitted all of that to happen.
“Up and down the lineup, we played well and played with energy, so you’ve got to like that.”