With a one run lead in the 9th inning against a very good offensive Braves team, the Cubs were a hit away from serious danger of losing last night.
The problem for the Braves? They decided – foolishly – to hit every single ball that inning in the general vicinity of Javy Baez. I mean, pick a better spot, am I right?
Also: Javy Baez for closer.
One of those Baez catches was truly incredible. Because of his awesomeness, Baez has made it really hard to appreciate just how good his defensive plays are, but let’s put it this way, for context – imagine Daniel Murphy or even Ben Zobrist trying to run out and make this catch:
Starts with an M
Ends with a P
Not a cleaning instrument or a geographic chart. pic.twitter.com/eYiKwmR8hr
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) August 31, 2018
With the outfield playing extra deep to prevent doubles, that Ender Inciarte pop was in no man’s land. Were there no one else at all approaching the ball, it’s absolutely possible that Albert Almora would have made it in enough to snag it (he’s quite good out there, you know). But in the moment, on those in-between plays, you can’t know if you’re going to get there enough to call off a streaking infielder running backwards – and that’s especially true when that infielder is El Mago. What, he’s not going to make the play? Get outta here.
Joe Maddon emphasized how tough that catch is (Cubs.com): “It’s on the run, he timed it perfectly, it’s not that easy. A lot of times, the ball is going to be bouncing on you when you’re running that hard and running away. That is one of the better plays you’re going to see.”
If Baez doesn’t make that catch, it’s at least a runner on first base – maybe second – and one out for Ronald Acuña. Yikes. Albert Almora knew how big that catch was, and Baez was pumped:
As always, Javy Baez is art: