Leather report: Schwarber shows hustle in rain

Outfielder lays out for diving catch, but records two errors

Leather report: Schwarber shows hustle in rain

CHICAGO -- While Kyle Schwarber's Friday might be remembered for one play, Joe Maddon wanted to make something else painfully clear.

"Don't blame Schwarber. Please don't blame Schwarber," Maddon said following the Cubs' 6-3 loss to the Brewers at Wrigley Field. "Whatever you do, don't do that."

The play in question? Schwarber stood in left field with the wind blowing back toward home plate. Jonathan Villar was batting with a runner on first and nobody out. The Brewers led 4-3, and the rain was starting to pick up.

Villar connected on a pitch from right-hander Pierce Johnson, lifting it high in the air toward left, but the wind blew it back toward the infield.

The ball hung in the air for a long time, leaving Schwarber with plenty of time to call shortstop Javier Baez off and cover the 60 feet needed to make the catch -- Statcast™ gave him a 99 percent catch probability given only the distance and opportunity time as factors -- but it wasn't that simple.

Game enters long rain delay

"I thought I had it the whole time, but after Schwarber dropped it, I was really far from where the ball landed," Baez said. "It's tough, man. It's tough."

Fighting the wind and the rain, Schwarber got a glove on the ball, but it bounced away. He made a great effort afterward, snatching the ball barehanded and attempting a diving throw to get the runner at second, but the ball sailed past the bag.

Immediately after, the umpires called for the tarp. Following the ensuing one-hour, 59-minute rain delay, both runners eventually scored, pushing the one-run margin to three.

But even then, it'd be hard to assign too much blame to the left fielder, especially given that just a few innings earlier he made one of the best catches of his career.

Trailing 2-0 after a Brewers first-inning flurry, the Cubs were looking for a way to get out of the top of the third inning with one on and two out.

At the plate, Keon Broxton ran the count full and smacked a curveball into left field. The knock left Schwarber with just seconds to react -- the opportunity time on the play from when it left the pitcher's hand to when it was projected to land was just 3.0 seconds, according to Statcast™ -- but he got a perfect jump on the ball and came away with the spectacular snag.

"That was a great play," Maddon said.

According to Statcast™, there was just a 26 percent catch probability on the play, making Schwarber's effort his first four-star catch of the season. He covered 37 feet before laying out on the catch, which seemed to spark the team the other way. The Cubs answered with one run in the bottom of the third and took the lead with two more in the fourth.

In the end, though, it was the other play that proved bigger -- however you want to describe it. And on a day when the wind swirled and the weather conditions seemed to worsen and improve in chaotic fashion, there was one constant: what Maddon viewed as the culprit of a play he said should never have happened in the first place.

"That was a very awkward day to play baseball," Maddon said. "When a play like that occurs, it also points in the direction [that] the conditions weren't baseball-esque."

Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.