Javy Baez and Willson Contreras Combined for an Incredible, Critical Out at Home (VIDEO)

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Javy Baez and Willson Contreras Combined for an Incredible, Critical Out at Home (VIDEO)

Chicago Cubs

Despite building up a four-run lead at one point last night, the Chicago Cubs beat the Washington Nationals in Game Five by a final margin of just 9-8. And although there were a thousand tiny moments that combined to create the final score of this contest (and three big breaks for the Cubs), one huge play sticks out in particular.

And it was all the way back in the bottom of the first inning, which was approximately two weeks ago.

After the Cubs scored just one run in the top half of the inning (despite loading the bases), the Nationals came out looking for their own first inning production. Shortstop Trea Turner singled, stole second, and wound up on third base one batter later.

But then, with the infield pulled in and Bryce Harper at the plate, Javy Baez and Willson Contreras combined for a killer out:


Baez fielded a slowly-hit grounder (70 MPH – which didn’t make the play easier) cleanly and whipped it home to Contreras, nailing one of the fastest guys in all of baseball at the plate for a HUGE run-saving, second out.

Here are some of the Statcast specifics on the play:

Baez has the arm speed to throw it faster than 86.2 MPH (even though that’s plenty fast), but he rightfully sacrifices a bigger reach back for a quicker exchange. As Davi Adler points out, Baez got the ball off in 0.63 seconds. Think about that transfer speed. That’s absolutely mind-bogglingly fast. Try to touch your nose right now in under one second.

Being that fast was pretty much the only Baez was ever going to get a speedy guy like Turner at home.

Well, he also needed a brilliant catch and tag, but you just KNEW Willson Contreras wasn’t going to miss that opportunity:


Contreras caught that ball on the right side of home plate, swung around and planted his glove right on Turners cheek. Instead of a tie ball-game with one out and a runner on first. It was 1-0, Cubs with two outs and a guy on first.

According to FanGraphs win probability chart, that play took the Nationals odds of winning that game down from 49.2% to 41.9%, which is a fairly enormous swing that early in the game (little did they know we were in for one of the longest and most ridiculous games ever). As it was, Kyle Hendricks struck out Ryan Zimmerman swinging in the next at-bat and the game rolled on.

What a huge play for Baez and Contreras. It may have saved the game before you even knew it needed saving.

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami