The Ian Happ catch that saved a run, allowed Cubs to pick up series win in St. Louis
For a brief moment in the bottom of the 7th inning on Sunday afternoon in St. Louis, all David Ross could do was hold his breath.
With two outs and a runner on first base in a tie game, Paul Goldschmidt ripped a looping fly ball to the left field corner that looked destined to drop for extra bases. Ian Happ sprinted after the ball, slid onto the warning track and caught the ball in the webbing of his glove before it hit the ground, ending the inning and not allowing the Cardinals to score.
“It’s down the line, we’re blocked out,” Ross told reporters in St. Louis. “I was watching [third base umpire] Lance Barksdale and he pointed fair and then gave the out sign. Big smile, for sure.”
Sunday’s 6-5 win in St. Louis was impressive in many aspects for the Cubs.
There was the 5-run 4th inning rally, the game-winning hit by Willson Contreras in the top of the 10th inning and David Robertson setting down the heart of the Cardinals order in the bottom of the 10th to close the game.
But it’s safe to say the Cubs don’t pick up the victory without Happ’s stellar catch in the bottom of the 7th inning.
“Happ saving that one down the line was huge for [Rowan Wick],” Ross said. “You make some good plays and keep the momentum in your favor and they’re having to go to their bullpen and guys continue to have their at-bats.”
That kept the score tied at 5 and allowed the Cubs to score in the 10th inning and grab a series win in St. Louis.
It’s another chapter in Happ’s stellar 2022 that is putting him in the thick of the conversation for an All-Star Game appearance. While his offensive exploits have been noted — .835 OPS with 8 home runs, 36 RBI and a 2.4 WAR — his defense has been no slouch, either.
Happ is tied for second among qualified left fielders in defensive runs saved (4), tied with the Padres’ Jurickson Profar and trailing just the Angels’ Brandon Marsh (8). Sunday he showed that defensive prowess — and it led directly to a Cubs win.
“It’s a really tough play,” Ross said. “He’s made a bunch of those plays this year. Really nice play.”