The Chicago Cubs scored their first run of the night when the very first batter of the game, Ben Zobrist, took an 0-2 offering deep to left. The Cubs added a second run in the 5th inning on a Jon Lester RBI single.
Then they would not score again for 10 innings.
Normally, when you score a couple runs and then don’t score again for such a long stretch, you’re going to lose that game. But thanks to fantastic pitching, defense, and managerial wizardry, the Cubs managed to make it all the way to the 15th inning in a tied game. That gave Kris Bryant a chance to single home the first run the Cubs had scored in a long time, and then Javy Baez went way deep to center field with the bases loaded:
— MLB (@MLB) June 29, 2016
That was 429 feet of this-game-is-over.
The homer was Baez’s first and only hit of the night, and his seventh of the season. On the year, Baez is hitting .256/.301/.430 (93 wRC+), which you’ll gladly take right now from a player with his versatility, baserunning ability, and stellar defense. But it’s not at all hard to see that he can be even more.
The Cubs were in a position for that Baez slam to seal the deal in large part because they were able to maximize matchups on the mound in the final innings, despite being out of position players and available relievers. How?
Joe Maddon went extremely old school, having relievers Travis Wood, Spencer Patton, and Pedro Strop, at varying times, play in left field:
It’s a bummer that none of the trio got a ball out there in left, especially Pedro Strop, who would have undoubtedly celebrated the heck out of it. Then again, losing the game on a horribly misplayed ball out there would have been something much worse than a bummer, so maybe this all turned out just fine.
We still got to see the madness, and to see the player laughing and joking around like kids in the backyard.