During Team Puerto Rico’s win over the Dominican Republic Tuesday night, Javier Baez made a no-look tag at second, celebrating before the out was made.
In a few short weeks, Javier Baez and Yadier Molina will find themselves on opposite sides of a heated St. Louis Cardinals-Chicago Cubs rivalry. But, on Tuesday night, they joined forces as Team Puerto Rico snapped the Dominican Republic’s 11-game World Baseball Classic winning streak.
In the eighth inning of the win, Nelson Cruz took off for second base. Molina fired a strike to the first-base side the bag and before the ball was even in Baez’s glove, he was celebrating and pointing back at Molina. Nonchalantly, he slapped a no-look tag down on Cruz to complete the play.
Now, at least here at home, everyone got some exposure to the young infielder’s tagging prowess during the postseason last year. Cubs fans, in general, love him for his flair for the theatrics. But, it’s easy to understand why he might rub some traditionalists the wrong way.
But, at least on Tuesday night, it seemed everyone was nothing but impressed.
Last season, Baez started every single postseason game for Joe Maddon, even winning NLCS co-MVP honors thanks to an outstanding all-around series. Of course, his Gold Glove-caliber defense was part of that performance.
What does the win mean for Puerto Rico?
With the return of Kyle Schwarber, where Baez will play on a daily basis remains to be seen. It seems likely Ben Zobrist could shift to a more utility-based role, opening up second regularly. Baez improved drastically in terms of his strikeouts last year. This improvement led to more regular appearances for the young budding star.
Team Puerto Rico, meanwhile, took a big step forward with its win Tuesday.
"“This is what it’s all about,” Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez told USA Today. “There’s a lot of emotion here, and you just let them play. I mean, we let the other team celebrate the way they want, because this is what it’s all about. They’re playing for their country."