While most of the country spent the Fourth of July eating hot dogs and setting off fireworks, the Cubs’ Javier Baez spent his Independence Day doing his best impersonation of Neo from “The Matrix.”
Against the Detroit Tigers, baseball’s most exciting player pulled off baseball’s most exciting play: stealing home.
Tigers pitcher Francisco Liriano attempted a pickoff of Addison Russell at first base while Baez was hanging out on third base.
As soon as Liriano made his move toward first, Baez took off from third. Upon receiving the pickoff attempt, Tigers first baseman John Hicks paid no attention to Russell as he immediately threw the ball home to try to nab Baez.
The throw home actually beat Baez, and catcher James McCann appeared to have an easy tag out. But Baez pulled off a swim move to successfully evade the tag and touched home plate with his right arm right before McCann tagged his leg.
The Cubs broadcaster describes Baez’s steal as the culmination of his “magical trip around the bases.” Baez reached first via single but then managed to score without another base hit.
He stole second base, reached third base via error by Hicks and then stole home all in the matter of seconds. His run tied the game at two and the Cubs would go on to win 5-2.
After the game, his manager likely sent many young people to Google when he dropped a Rat Pack reference in relation to Baez.
“Who’s more exciting to watch than he?” Maddon asked of Baez. “He is, I’d say, in that top-10 kind of part of the Rat Pack from back in the day. He’s one of those guys.”
“He sashayed in with Sinatra. That’s how he plays baseball.”
Baez said he was just waiting for the opportunity to take off as soon as he got to third base.
“As soon as I got to third, I was just ready from the first pitch,” he said. “I just went for it.
“I used to slide head-first (as a kid) and get stuck and not go through the bag or whatever,” Baez added. “I was kind of worried about it because I didn’t want to do the scorpion.”
Baez didn’t do the scorpion, but he did sting the opposition as the Tigers have now lost 14 of their last 16 games.
This was the sixth straight win for the Cubs and that marks their longest winning streak of the season. They currently hold the top wild-card spot in the National League and are just 1.5 games behind the Brewers for the NL Central lead.
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