SAN FRANCISCO -- Maybe the exemplary hitting conditions at Wrigley Field this month aren't the reason for the Chicago Cubs' second-half power surge. Maybe it's the hitters themselves.
Maddon went on to list the Cubs who are showing a confidence boost at the plate, led by rookie Kyle Schwarber who became the first Cubs player in the modern era (1900) to hit 12 home runs within his first 42 games, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. His third-inning blast off Giants starter Matt Cain broke a scoreless game and was the first of three home runs hit by the Cubs on the night.
"Felt good in the box today," Schwarber said.
He didn't feel as good the day before when he struck out four times against Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber. But that's the beauty of Schwarber -- as with the other Cubs rookies -- he's mature enough to shake it off and come back the next day and hit a bomb in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park.
"I've heard it's a pretty tough ballpark to hit at night," Schwarber said. "We did a good job of getting some balls up in the zone and not missing the pitch."
And what of that day against the reigning American League Cy Young award winner?
"That's why he's Corey Kluber," Schwarber stated. "You can't get mad when you only get one pitch that's not on the black of the plate. ... It was a tough day but you have to move past."
Schwarber's maturity shows at the plate and in the locker room. His ability to process a bad moment and move past it quickly isn't a trait all rookies possess. Schwarber's past four hits have been home runs.
It's not all about the Cubs' young players, though. Later in the game catcher Miguel Montero and shortstop Starlin Castro homered, giving the Cubs a nice cushion for starter Jake Arrieta who won for the 16th time this season.
The three long balls gave the Cubs 52 since the All-Star break, one behind the New York Mets for the National League lead in that time frame. But the Cubs have done it in about a 100 fewer at-bats than the Mets. For comparison, they ranked seventh in the NL in home runs before the All-Star break. That was also pre-Schwarber.
"When we get three runs in the second inning I'm feeling pretty good about my chances to win that game," Arrieta said. "And then when we add on three more in the next inning it's pretty much ‘All right, here we go. Let's get this win.'"
Win they did, for the 18th time this month against four losses while improving their major league-best road record to 34-25.
"We put some good swing on some balls today," Schwarber said. "We stuck with the approach. We got some balls up in the air and they left somehow."