Jason Heyward is getting tired of talking about his rebuilt swing. Considering what the Chicago Cubs center fielder is doing at the plate these days, the conversation will soon flip from his new-look swing to the results.
Heyward hit his third home run in four days, a sizzling line drive to right-center off Pittsburgh's Chad Kuhl in the first inning to set the tone in a lopsided 14-3 victory for the suddenly hot Cubs on Monday night. Heyward added an RBI on a groundout during Chicago's five-run second inning as the defending World Series champions won for the fifth time in six games.
A year after he hit just .230 while managing just seven home runs and 49 RBIs, Heyward is at .294 with three home runs and 16 RBIs in 18 games so far in 2017.
"I've been there before," Heyward said. "Had a down year before, didn't go exactly how I wanted. Had to put some work in and come back. It's great to see. It's not over. I'm not looking at it that way."
Addison Russell had a career-high four hits for the Cubs, who set a season-high total for runs and tied their season-high total with 17 hits. A little over two years after going 0-5 in his major league debut at PNC Park, Russell singled four times while spraying the ball to all fields.
"I just put it in play and see where it goes," Russell said. "It's working out. Seems like a pretty easy approach."
Ben Zobrist added three RBIs for Chicago. Anthony Rizzo had three hits to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant and Miguel Montero all had two hits apiece. The Cubs are starting to get it going after a sluggish start, averaging 8.8 runs during their recent surge to first in the NL Central. It has helped take some of the pressure off a pitching staff that is struggling to get any sort of consistency from its starters.
"Some pieces are changed around but all in all if I'm producing, have Schwarbs here, him settled in for a whole year, there's a lot of good things that can come from it," Heyward said.
Chicago scored four runs with two outs in the first inning off Chad Kuhl (1-2) and added five more in the second to give Brett Anderson (2-0) all the breathing room he would need.
Anderson struggled at times with his command, walking six in six innings while striking out three and allowed three runs, one earned. Though Chicago manager Joe Maddon said he was "encouraged" by what he saw from Anderson, Anderson didn't exactly agree.
"I'd like to have a start where I don't have to battle, to grind, do all the things of that nature," Anderson said.