Frank Schwindel hits home run with friends and family in the stands
PHILADELPHIA – It’s not often that a home run from a visiting player – in Philadelphia of all places – elicits a standing ovation loud enough to muffle boos from home fans.
Then again, it’s not often that a group of fans seated behind the visitor’s canoe sport personalized T-shirts with a player’s face glued to them, and their nickname scribbled underneath.
That was the case Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park, as New Jersey native Frank Schwindel collected two hits – including a two-run homer – in the Cubs’ 6-5 loss to the Phillies. Matt Duffy hit an equalizer early in the ninth, but the Cubs allowed the winning run to come home on a ball passed in the lower half.
With over 50 family and friends seated behind the third baseman’s dugout, Schwindel walked through home plate to chants of “Frank the Tank” after his two-point shot at the top of fifth. Five of Schwindel’s high school friends even had custom “Frank the Tank” t-shirts that together spelled “TANK-!” on the back.
“It’s always fun when Frankie comes into the dugout after a home run, I’ll say it,” said manager David Ross. “He always arrives with a lot of energy and quite proud of himself when he arrives, and it shows.” There is a big smile on his face. He’s got a lot of people here, a lot of supporters who made noise on this home run tonight. “
Schwindel, who grew up about an hour and a half northeast of Philadelphia in Livingston, NJ, continued to give Cubs fans – in attendance and at home – a reason to cheer on Wednesday. His fifth inning homer came after he had already scored a brace in the first inning, giving him 24 more hits in 39 games with the Cubs. Only Bryce Harper, who scored twice against the Cubs, has more extra-base hits (30) among NHL hitters since the start of August.
Although Schwindel enjoyed his lively walk to the canoe after crossing home plate, Chicago starter Alec Mills had a very different emotion when he returned to the canoe a round earlier.
After going through two perfect runs to start the night, Mills came out unscathed in third despite setting up two runners with just one out. He wasn’t so lucky in the fourth, when Harper netted a brace before later scoring on a double. Mills then walked out with two strikeouts and served a two-run homerun to Freddy Galvis.
Mills gave up another brace early in the fifth – this one to opposing starter Ranger Suárez. Although he pulled out the next two hitters, Mills was lifted after intentionally making Harper walk. Then reliever Scott Effross awarded a single RBI to JT Realmuto before ending the frame.
“Obviously, looking back, I wasn’t very happy with the way I handled it,” said Mills, who shook his head as he left the mound. “But at the same time, I’m a competitor and I want to stay there. I thought I had a good chance of getting [Realmuto] outside. … Obviously I wish I could take back the way I handled it, but I think being competitive is something I’m very proud of. I am also very proud to go as far as possible in the games. I guess I wish I could change some things about this start. “
As for Mills’ reaction to his withdrawal, Ross seemed no exception.
“None of them like it when I go out and grab the ball from them, I’ll tell you,” Ross said.
It’s a similar competitive shot that made Schwindel a fan favorite during his brief spell with the Cubs. With his latest two-hit performance, the 29-year-old first baseman has reduced to .362 / .409 / .684 (1.093 OPS) in his first 40 games with Chicago.
In doing so, Schwindel joined Hank Sauer as the only players in franchise history with at least 12 home runs and 1,050 OPS in their first 40 games with the organization. Sauer hit 15 home runs with a 1.117 OPS in his first 40 games after being acquired from the Reds in the 1949 season. He went on to win the 1952 NL MVP Award and hit 198 home runs in seven seasons on the North Side. from Chicago.
Speaking of the North Side, Schwindel’s contingent once again made the Cubs feel at home in Philadelphia when they mastered the boos in the eighth inning after Robinson Chirinos’ two-run tying homerun. He was less successful in stifling the growing dissatisfaction of the Phillies loyalists in the ninth, when – after the Phils regained the lead in the late eighth – Duffy landed another tying shot.
The home run trio was to no avail when Trevor Megill’s two-out-breaking ball deflected from Chirinos’ glove late in the ninth, allowing Andrew Knapp to come home from third.
While that obviously would have meant more in a win, Schwindel’s latest home run continued to propel his record for a potential spot on the 2022 club roster.
“It definitely stands out when he hits them,” Ross said, “but here, and near his home, it’s a good time for him.”