Last night, the Chicago Cubs won their tenth straight game – which also happened to be their fifth against the Cardinals this season – with an extra-innings walk-off Anthony Rizzo walk.
But before that fourth and final run crossed the plate in the bottom of the 11th inning, David Ross did something pretty crazy for the third run.
He singled and knocked in a run with this one-strike, two-out bunt in the bottom of the sixth inning. Yup. The Chicago Cubs’ 39-year-old catcher stepped up to the plate against Carlos Martinez – who’s been devastating against righties this season – and dropped a near-perfect bunt just to the left of the mound. When Martinez’s throw pulled Matt Carpenter off the bag at first, Ross wound up with a single, an RBI, and the attention of everyone in the stadium.
The beauty of that particular decision comes from how unexpected it was. Not only do you rarely see a two-out bunt, I don’t think anyone expected the Cubs’ 39-year-old back-up catcher to try and hustle one out, Jake Taylor-style. But he did. And it worked. Throw in the fact that Martinez had already made over 25 pitches in a stressful, multi-run scoring inning on a very hot night (110 pitches overall) and maybe there was a bit more calculus to it, too.
But whatever the impetus, the hustled bunt was a heads up, in-your-face play from David Ross – a style he seemed to adopt throughout the evening.
In the very next half inning, for example, Ross took the phrase in-your-face a bit literally – on two separate plays – to completely squash some Cardinal momentum.
First, after Jedd Gyorko led off with a line drive single to center field, Ross made sure he got no further than that. On the fifth pitch of the next at-bat, Ross reached back and fired a bullet down to first to nail Gyorko who was leaning too far away from the bag. Anthony Rizzo added the in-your-face tag (which I like to think he paired with a whispered, “David Ross sends his regards.”):
Tag. You're out.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 12, 2016
But even if he sent Rizzo ahead as a henchman on the play prior, Ross doesn’t shy away from doing his own dirty work – even later in the same inning. After a Randal Grichuk home run (which would have scored Gyorko had he still been on base, by the way) and a Matt Carpenter single, Stephen Piscotty stepped up to the plate and crushed a would-be lead-giving RBI double into left-center field.
I say “would-be,” of course, because Chris Coghlan, Addison Russell, and – the hero of this post’s narrative – David Ross combined to ensure that wouldn’t happen. Ross fielded a perfect throw from cut-off man Russell, and then applied a hearty tag to a greedy Matt Carpenter’s noggin:
— MBDChicago (@MBDChicago) August 12, 2016
But if you’re thinking you’re the only one who absolutely loves good ‘ole Grandpa Rossy, you’d be wrong:
There may be some really big names stepping away, but everyone’s really gonna miss Grandpa Rossy.https://t.co/2snxZgEw05
— MLB (@MLB) August 12, 2016