Chicago Cubs' Baez continues to dazzle in win over Tigers
The danger here is that we're all going to start taking for granted what Javier Baez does on a baseball field.
"It never gets old watching him play baseball," said Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon after watching Baez and his team come from behind again, this time 5-2 over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday. It was the Cubs' sixth straight win, all of them comeback victories.
The Cubs are a season-high 14 games over .500 at 49-35. They found themselves down 1-0 and 2-1 on a hot Fourth of July afternoon at Wrigley Field before Baez took over and changed the face of the game.
David Bote's first major-league home run enabled the Cubs to tie it at 1-1 in the second before John Hicks hit the second home run of the day against Cubs starter Jose Quintana in the third.
He led off the bottom of the fourth against Tigers starter Francisco Liriano with a single. He then stole second as Liriano attempted a pickoff. When first baseman Hicks' throw went wide for an error, Baez kept on running to third base.
The real fun started after Addison Russell walked.
Liriano threw to first as Russell broke for second. Baez charged home and arched his body sideways while sliding to avoid the tag by catcher James McCann and get credit for a steal of home.
The Cubs went on to get a solo homer from Willson Contreras in the sixth and a 2-run double by Contreras in the seventh.
Baez has perfected his slide move.
"I used to slide headfirst and get stuck, not go through the bag or whatever," Baez said. "I kind of got worried about it because I didn't want to do 'the scorpion.' I started going slow, and once I started sliding, I kind of felt my hands and putting pressure on my hands. It made me stop.
"At the same time, paying attention to his (the fielder's) glove and whatever, the tag, he's only got one target, and hopefully he misses every time I do it."
For Baez it's all in a day's work -- or play.
"I feel like a lot of people want to follow me and the way I play," he said. "It's being you, to be honest. I go out there to have fun and to do the best for my teammates and play hard. I'm not trying to show anybody up. I'm trying to do the best for my team."
Everybody else was left to admire.
"It's a beautiful play," Russell said. "You have to have the right people in that position, and Javy's like the top 10 for that play."
Baez continues to make his case for the All-Star Game, but how about Hollywood or Vegas?
"He is in that top-10 part of the Rat Pack from back in the day; you had to go to Vegas to see him," Maddon said. "He's one of those guys. He sashayed in with (Frank) Sinatra and the boys. That's how he plays baseball."
The Cubs got 6 innings of 5-hit, 2-run ball from Quintana (7-6), who turned in the Cubs' first quality start since June 20.
"I felt really good about today's outing," Quintana said through a translator. "I felt like I had good command of all my pitches. I did have to battle a couple innings here and there, but overall I was really happy with my performance today."