One swing gives Báez, Cubs series win in St. Louis
All it takes is one swing.
That’s all Javy Báez needed Sunday night in St. Louis.
Facing an 0-for-3 day with 2 strikeouts, Báez came up to bat in the 10th inning with Willson Contreras at third, 1 out and a scoreless game. Báez hacked an 0-1 slider and sent into the St. Louis sky to give the Cubs the lead en route to a 2-1 victory over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The Cubs took two out of three from St. Louis.
“I hit it good,” Báez said. “I just didn’t know if it was going or not, but either way we were going to get the go-ahead run. That was what I was worried about.”
For Báez, it was exactly what he was looking for. The first pitch he saw from Alex Reyes was a slider in the dirt that he swung and missed at. Then, Reyes came back with another slider low in the zone that Báez sent into center field.
“Seeing the curveball,” Báez said. “Even, the first swing I saw it and just swing.”
It looked like it would be a frustrating offensive night for the Cubs, who had just 2 hits in 9 innings, but luckily for the Cubs, their pitching staff showed off the type of group they’ve been over the last few weeks.
“I’m just proud of those guys continuing to battle in those circumstances,” David Ross, who was ejected in the 4th inning for arguing balls and strikes, said. “All the way around really good job and Javy coming up with the big home run.
“Guys fought till the end, it’s kind of been the character of this group, continuing to not give, continuing to have their at-bats and good things happen. Continuing to work through some adversity. Was a nice win.”
There was a solid outing from the starter and big moments and grit from the bullpen.
Zach Davies set the tone, pitching 5 scoreless innings and escaping a few jams. He finished the night allowing 4 hits, 3 walks and striking out 3. Then Tommy Nance pitched a shutout 6th before allowing two baserunners to start the 7th inning. Bench coach Andy Green, who took over the managerial responsibilities from Ross, turned to Ryan Tepera to escape the jam.
With Adam Wainwright bunting, Tepera threw the ball to David Bote at third, beating the runner, but the runner was ruled safe, loading the bases with no outs.
Then came some magic from Tepera.
Tepera induced a grounder from Tommy Edman to Nico Hoerner who flipped it to Willson Contreras at home for an out. Against, the Cardinals’ big bats, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, Tepera didn’t falter. He induced a popout to the catcher and then striking out Nolan Arenado in an epic, 8-pitch at-bat.
“Tep’s been throwing the ball as good as anybody in my opinion,” Ross said. “Really nice outing for him and getting out of a big jam there with really some of the better hitters in the National League that he had to get out.”
That permitted the Cubs to stay in the game and allowed Báez to produce some magic.
“Really big,” Báez said of that 7th inning. “He’s one of the guys [who] has been spinning the ball really good out of the bullpen. We trust all the guys out of the bullpen, but I think Tepera right now is on his peak. He’s feeling all his pitches.