Chicago Cubs: What distracted Javier Baez in the third inning Sunday?
By David Miniel
During the third inning Sunday, a piece of signage behind home plate proved costly to the Chicago Cubs and infielder Javier Baez, who lost a ground ball that could have prevented a run.
All night, the Chicago Cubs’ offense struggled to take advantage with runners on. This same problem emerged, at times, during the postseason last year. Despite Kyle Schwarber coming through with a single and double in his first two at-bats as the team’s leadoff hitter, Chicago had no answer for Carlos Martinez.
That was until catcher Willson Contreras launched a game-tying three-run homer with one out in the ninth. As quickly as the momentum swung in favor of Chicago, it went right back to the Cardinals when Randal Grichuk delivered a walk-off base hit in the bottom of the frame.
However, the season just started so this offense is going to come alive sooner rather than later. The Cubs are not going to be a dud in 2017.
Moving on. During last night’s loss, infielder Javier Baez had himself a little bit of a hiccup that could have resulted in a double play. You know, had he been able to field the ball.
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Instead, Baez took a few steps to his right, having to lunge to his left on the play. Prior to that play, Dexter Fowler recorded his first hit in a Cardinal uniform. Fowler and Baez later joked around, showing that the brotherly bond was still alive and well.
That’s completely normal. Even though Fowler now wears enemy colors, it doesn’t change the fact that he was a key member of this team.
‘You go, we go’ – forever
No matter what Fowler does in that god-awful Cards jersey, he’s still loved in the city of Chicago. Anyway, back to Baez and his play. We are all aware of Javier Baez and his talented glove.
Mainly, his ability to make quick tags on runners looking to swipe an extra bag. His overall defense is excellent but last night was a tad confusing.
At least, during the third inning of play. With Aledmys Diaz slapping a pitch towards his position, Baez looked somewhat confused and I could tell right off the bat. What should have been an easy double play later resulted in a sacrifice fly.
A honest mistake for Baez
Once the St. Louis Cardinals celebrated their walk-off victory, Baez spoke to the media about what went down. He said:
"“I’m not afraid to make mistakes. And when I make then, there’s no excuse. I didn’t see the ball at all until it passed the mound. I realize it was the sign because (Diaz) was getting out of the box, and I still couldn’t see the ball. It was only for us playing defense. No excuses. But I couldn’t see the ball,” Baez told the Chicago Tribune"
Well, that explains it. The Cardinals have two ad panels behind home plate. Not too long after, skipper Joe Maddon made his way out to the umpire to discuss the panel itself. Either way, it was an honest mishap that should not be a problem from here on out.
Next: Contreras homers in 4-3 loss to Cards
On a side note, Baez ended the night 1-for-4 at the dish as Ben Zobrist, Jon Lester, Jon Jay, Kris Bryant and Tommy La Stella all went hitless. At one point, Bryant had the bases loaded with only one out but was retired on a routine fly ball.
Same goes for first baseman Anthony Rizzo. For now, the Cubs will take Monday to clear their heads and get back to work Tuesday evening. Hopefully, the end result will be a lot different.