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javier baez featureAfter Aroldis Chapman allowed two baserunners in the 9th inning last night to bring the potential winning run to the plate, I’m not sure I could have been more excited. That’s because the winning run came in the form of Javier Baez. That meant we were about to see the fastest bat in baseball against the fastest arm in baseball with the freaking game on the line. For a couple teams out of the race in late August, it’s not going to get more exciting than that.

They didn’t disappoint.

After buzzing a fastball down the pipe at 101 mph, Chapman fooled Baez with a disgusting 90 mph slider under his hands. Down 0-2, you had to figure Baez was about to get the high heat, with which he couldn’t possibly catch up. Except Baez was ready, and he did.

What happened was so frustratingly amazing:

JD’s groan at the end pretty much sums it up.

You can watch a longer version, from the Reds’ broadcaster perspective, here. They were as relieved as the Cubs’ were disappointed.

The things you notice:

  1. The pitch was up, but definitely not as up as Chapman wanted it. Still, impressive that Javy got around on it;
  2. Chapman immediately thought it was gone;
  3. Brandon Phillips immediately thought it was gone;
  4. Billy Hamilton had a lot of fun catching that ball;
  5. How the hell does a 102 mph fastball meet Javy Baez’s bat with loft and not leave the park, even in center field?

Stan Croussett offered a pictorial representation of the fly out:

I can’t even imagine the online explosion if that ball goes two more feet. We would have lost our damn minds, given Jorge Soler’s debut and homer earlier in the game, and Cubs’ fans general state of happiness and excitement right now.

In the end, we should just feel good about that at bat. Baez did everything he could against a guy who currently sports a 51.8%(!!!) strikeout rate, and who is probably the best short-dose pitcher in all of baseball. Fans got a treat in the match-up, and it was deeply exciting, even if not fulfilling.

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