Chicago Cubs: A taste of what was to come from El Mago
The ninth-inning rally in Game 4 of the 2016 NLDS was as incredible as it was unlikely, but Baez’s homer off of San Francisco Giants stud Johnny Cueto in Game 1 was electrifying.
For nearly eight innings, Cueto and Cubs ace Jon Lester engaged in a classic pitcher’s duel. While Lester was tremendous, holding the Giants scoreless and spreading five hits over eight innings, Cueto was firing on all cylinders.
San Francisco’s marquee offseason acquisition had thrown seven scoreless innings of his own, allowing just three hits and striking out nine, keeping Cubs hitters off-balance all night. After Cueto retired Jason Heyward to begin the bottom of the eighth, Baez stepped to the plate.
Baez was one of the few that seemed to be seeing the ball well against Cueto’s quirky delivery, as he had already singled earlier in the game. And in this at-bat, Baez showed discipline, working a full count.
With the crowd at Wrigley on their feet, Cueto tried to quick-pitch to disrupt Baez’s timing. But Baez launched a fastball deep into the night and stared out at the mound after.
Statcast measured the exit velocity of the ball at 107 MPH off the bat, which, on average, would result in a 415-foot bomb. But, as is usually the case at Wrigley field in October, the wind was blowing in a bit. Still, Baez’s strength was enough to send the ball into the basket for a dramatic homer, sending Wrigley Field into a frenzy.
It was arguably the loudest I had ever heard Wrigley Field – even from just watching the telecast -and the commentary from Matt Vasgersian is one of my favorite calls ever.