Amid their best start in more than two decades, the Chicago Cubs are now forced to deal with an injury to one of their young sluggers.
While Kyle Schwarber won't be in the lineup Friday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the visiting Cubs move on wondering the severity of his sprained ankle and injured knee.
Chicago improved to 3-0 for the first time since winning its first four in 1995 after Thursday's 14-6 rout of Arizona (1-3). However, Schwarber was carted off the field in the bottom of the second after he collided with center fielder Dexter Fowler on a play that resulted in an inside-the-park home run for Jean Segura.
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Initial X-rays were negative, but an MRI was scheduled for Friday.
"Hopefully it's not as bad as it looked," teammate Anthony Rizzo told the Cubs' official website. "I'm optimistic. Big guys, we don't go down and break stuff. Hopefully, it's something that's short term."
Though Schwarber is hitless in five plate appearances, he's a major part of Chicago's plan after recording 16 homers and 43 RBIs in 69 regular-season games and shining in the playoffs last year.
"I'm not going to be down in spirits," he said. "I'm going to wait until (Friday) and see what happens.
"You can't get mad about playing hard and getting hurt. I'd rather play hard and get hurt, than play not hard and get hurt."
While the Cubs are obviously concerned with Schwarber's health, the setback didn't slow them down Thursday. Trailing 3-0 after an inning, Chicago broke out for 14 hits, drew 10 walks and scored the final 10 runs while winning their 12th consecutive regular-season road contests.
The Cubs have totaled 29 runs, 14 extra-base hits and 17 walks in three games.
Fowler is 7 for 12 with six runs and four RBIs. Rizzo had a three-run homer for one of his three hits and drove in six of his nine RBIs on Thursday.
Schwarber was expected to catch scheduled starter Jason Hammel but ex-Diamondback Miguel Montero, who went 0 for 6 on Thursday, could be behind the plate again.
Hammel went 5-4 with a 2.86 ERA in 17 starts before the 2015 All-Star break, but had a 5.10 ERA while going 5-3 in 14 after and was 0-1 with a 14.54 ERA in two playoff starts. The right-hander allowed four runs and struck out nine in seven innings of a 4-3 loss at Arizona in May.
Paul Goldschmidt, who hit a two-run homer off Hammel in that contest, is 3 for 8 against him. Segura, who also led off with a homer Thursday, is 1 for 14 against Hammel but 8 for 18 with five RBIs in four games.
The Diamondbacks have scored 25 runs this week but yielded 34. Their pitchers issued five walks in the first three games and the starters have a 10.18 ERA.
They'll hand the ball to Robbie Ray, who went 5-12 with a 3.52 ERA over 23 starts in his first season with Arizona last year. The left-hander was 1-6 with a 4.88 ERA in 11 at Chase Field.
However, he earned the fifth spot in the rotation by going 2-0 with a 3.50 ERA and striking out 20 in 18 innings over five spring straining starts.
"He ended the year with us, so that give him a little bit of a leg up and he hasn't let go of it," manager Chip Hale told the Diamondbacks' official website. "(He) pitched very well all spring."
Ray gave up a solo homer to Fowler and one other run in five innings of a 2-0 loss at Chicago on Sept. 5.