Javy Baez couldn’t have a better performance in his audition for his first All-Star appearance.
Playing against the skipper who will pick the NL reserves, the Cubs star put on a show at Dodger Stadium with both his glove and his bat.
“The Baez Show” started in the second inning with the Dodgers threatening to put some runs on the board. They had already scored one run in the inning and were poised for more with a runner on third and one out with Yasiel Puig at bat.
Puig hit a sharp grounder to Baez at third with the runner on third, Cody Bellinger, going home on contact. Most players would simply throw the ball to first for the easy out and concede the runner to score from third.
But Baez had other ideas, and his heads-up play — and rocket arm — led to the most improbable of outcomes: a double play with no runs being scored.
Bellinger got caught in a rundown between third and home, which ended in Baez tagging him out. Out of the corner of his eye, Baez then noticed that Puig rounded first base a little too aggressively and fired one across the diamond to double off Puig and end the inning.
Bellinger and Puig deserve some of the blame for their uber-aggressive base-running, but Baez also deserves praise for being aware of both corners of the diamond and making two great plays.
“The Baez Show” didn’t end there as he planted one over the right-center field bleachers in the fifth inning to tie the game at 1-1. It was Baez’ third hit in three at bats, but he saved his best for last.
The Dodgers would reclaim the lead in the fifth inning but that would be short-lived. In the top of the sixth inning, Baez came to the plate with the bases loaded and faced LA’s Edward Paredes, who had not given up a single run in his 10 games pitched this season.
With one swing of the bat, Baez wiped out Paredes’ perfect ERA and blew the game open as he hit his fourth career grand slam.
JAVY A NIGHT, MR. BAEZ
4-4, 2B, 2 HR (including this grand slam), 5 RBI
— Bleacher Report MLB (@BR_MLB) June 27, 2018
It was also the fourth two-homer game for Baez in his career. He now ranks in the top five in both home runs and RBIs in the NL this season.
The Cubs would go on to win 9-4 and end their five-game losing streak, which was their longest of the season. They also kept their lead atop the NL wild-card standings while the Dodgers are tied with St. Louis for the second spot.
“There isn’t anything [Baez] can’t do,” said Cubs manager Joe Maddon. “He has his head on a swivel; he sees things other guys don’t. That was a spectacular game he had tonight. …
“[Baez] is a perfect example of what Major League Baseball needs to highlight.”
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