Thursday afternoon at PNC Park, the Chicago Cubs wrapped up their three-game sweep over the NL Central rival Pittsburgh Pirates (CHC 5, PIT 3). The Cubs have won four straight games and nine of their last 11. Chicago was helped to a sweep by Javier Báez's base-running brilliance, and also stunning (and hilarious) incompetence by the Pirates.
Look at this play. Just look at it:
To recap, Báez turned a ground ball to third base into, essentially, an RBI double, despite running all the way back to home plate (?!?) at one point. Amazing. The play was ruled a fielder's choice and a throwing error was charged to Pirates catcher Michael Perez. Willson Contreras scored from second base on the play.
David Samson broke down the play on the latest Nothing Personal with David Samson. Listen below:
"Only Javy disappears more on the basepaths than anyone I've seen," Cubs manager David Ross told reporters, including James Wagner of the New York Times, following the game. "He just creates havoc, man ... I've never seen anything like that in my life, with as many games I've been able to be a part of. Just Javy, right? El Mago."
I have to say though, that play was more about Pittsburgh screwing up than Báez doing something amazing. There were two outs! All first baseman Will Craig had to do is step on the bag and the inning is over. It's a force play, so the run wouldn't have counted. Instead, Craig tried to chase down Báez for some reason, and things snowballed from there.
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Báez has off-the-charts awareness and base-running savvy. Combine that with the Pirates defense and, well, you get a Little League play. Craig had to forget the number of outs, right? There's no other explanation for doing anything other than stepping on the bag there.
In related news, the Pirates have now lost six straight games and 19 of their last 25 games.