Javy Báez pulled off his most incredible magic trick yet with a mind-bending play
Are you ready for the most El Mago play ever?
That’s not hyperbole.
You could watch Major League Baseball for a lifetime and never see what Javy Báez just did Thursday afternoon in Pittsburgh.
The All-Star shortstop quite literally stole a couple of runs for his team.
So here’s what happened:
Willson Contreras was on second base with 2 outs and Báez hit a routine grounder to third base. The throw to first was wild and pulled Pittsburgh’s Will Craig off the bag.
Báez showed off his incredible baseball IQ and not only stopped in his tracks but actually had the wherewithal to retrace his steps and run back toward home plate, getting Craig to bite and follow him. That allowed Contreras time to sprint toward the plate and slide in safely.
In the confusion, Báez was able to reach first base safely…and then advanced to second when the throw bounced into shallow right field.
He scored two pitches later with Ian Happ blooped a single into center field.
If Craig simply stepped on the first base bag, the inning would have ended, the run would not have scored and the game would’ve gone into the bottom of the 3rd inning with the Cubs only up 1-0.
Got all that?
It was officially ruled as a fielder’s choice RBI groundout for Báez and he advanced to second base on a throwing error by catcher Michael Perez.
It led to 2 Cubs runs and forced Pittsburgh starter Tyler Anderson to throw 13 extra pitches. Craig was also charged with an error on Bote’s grounder later in the inning.
Put simply: Báez singlehandedly turned PNC Park into a Little League field and created absolute havoc for the Pirates. Check out the entire play in the video above.
Here’s the reaction in the Cubs dugout after the play:
His teammates have never taken for granted what he can do on the baseball field but nobody was expecting a moment like Thursday.
“The dugout was just losing it,” Kyle Hendricks said. “Couldn’t believe what they just saw with their own eyes. Knowing the game, getting the other team in a weird position — that’s just what he does. Puts pressure on, gets them out of their comfort zone. Guys were going crazy in the dugout but I guess we should come to expect it by now.”
That energy carries over to the rest of the team, too.
“It locks us in, makes sure we’re having fun playing the game,” Hendricks said.
Báez has done some amazing things in the past, but this was next level — even for him.
How does he explain it?
“Let’s say I improvise,” a smiling Báez said after the 5-3 victory. “In the moment, I can react pretty fast to things like contact and stuff like that. But I’m pretty good at tagging and not letting people tag me.”
The Cubs aren’t expecting to ever see a play quite like that one again but they’re certainly enjoying the ride getting to watch Báez play every day.
“He has this way about him, whether you call it swag or baseball IQ, he plays the game like a kid,” David Ross said. “I think that’s why a lot of people fall in love with him. He plays it like the kid in Little League that’s better than everybody else and just keeps running and nobody can tag him and at times, something bad happens for the opponent — they throw the ball away or like today. Stuff that seems very cut-and-dry from the other side and he just makes crazy things happen.
“I’ve seen it — he runs in moments and guys just forget how to play baseball sometimes. That’s what he creates — just that havoc. He’s got that inner kid that loves to play baseball and compete and win. When you hear him talk, it’s the same thing. Anytime he’s been in my office, we’ve had good and bad discussions.
“All he wants to do is play baseball and win. It drives him crazy when he has to sit out because he’s a little banged up and we try to rest him just a hair. He gets bored and wants to go out and play with all the other kids on the field. That’s kind of Javy in a nutshell and he’s always been like that.”