The Cubs didn’t just take advantage of Cardinal miscues in the second inning last night, they also played some great defense.
For example, Addison Russell was vintage Addison Russell with this great diving stab and throw:
Am I the only one who thinks Russell’s arm looks strongest when he’s going away from the base to which he’s throwing? It’s kind of an odd thing – when he’s set up normally, or when he’s charging, I can see why some scouts had questions about the arm long-term at shortstop. But then I see a play like that (or any of the other dozen diving away plays he’s made at short or second base), and the arm looks plenty strong. Now, you might say that 77.5 MPH is not all that strong, but, again, that’s with his momentum carrying him away from first base. To my eye, on that kind of play, the throw looked really good.
Over at second base, the guy with whom Russell flip-flopped positions (it now seems like Castro is the starting second baseman, doesn’t it?), Starlin Castro, made a really heads up play earlier in the game:
There’s no blame there for Anthony Rizzo on not making the play, as that was a rocket shot. It was just a fortuitous deflection, and a heads up follow-the-play by Starlin Castro. Then, he used his athleticism – together with a great job of sticking with the play from Kyle Hendricks, himself – to get the out on a speedy runner.
Good D matters a whole lot in the postseason, and, as Michael recently pointed out, the Cubs have been very good on D this year.