Banged-Up Baez Comes Through In Clutch For Cubs

Javier Baez's pinch-hit walk-off single lifted the Cubs past the Phillies, 3-2.

Bruce Levine
May 21, 2019 - 11:52 pm

CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- Cubs infielder Javier Baez didn't waste any time when he got the chance to lift his team to victory Tuesday night.

Pinch-hitting with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning, Baez drilled the first pitch he saw from Phillies reliever Juan Nicasio down the right-field line for a walk-off single to plate Anthony Rizzo with the winning run in the Cubs' comeback 3-2 win at Wrigley Field. Rizzo had doubled earlier in the inning, which set up Kris Bryant's mad dash home to tie it on a chopper to the mound before Baez won it.

Despite Baez sitting out Monday and not starting Tuesday because of a heel contusion, Maddon tabbed him to pinch-hit for the lefty-swinging Daniel Descalso against the righty-throwing Nicasio. Maddon's mind was only on the moment at hand, as he didn't have a set plan of what to do with the hobbled Baez if the game went to extra innings.

"When I put him in, I had no idea of what I would do if we had been tied," Maddon said of Baez's limitation defensively in the field. "At the beginning of the inning (trainer) PJ (Mainville) told me that they were taping up his foot and was available to pinch-hit. I was looking at the options, and Nicasio is a reverse-split pitcher. I went with it after taking another nanosecond to think about it. I was still vacillating, then I said why not? If you do it, how do we play defense after that?"

Earlier in the day, Baez had undergone an MRI that produced results that cleared him to play. Maddon wasn't surprise that Baez attacked the first pitch he saw.

"The thing about Javier is he will not wait around," Maddon said. "He was going to get a good pitch, first pitch and do something with it. He had not played in a couple of days, but he did not miss it."

It marked Baez's second career walk-off hit and was his pinch-hitting debut this season, as he had started the Cubs' first 44 games.

"I don't know what is going on with Javy half the time," Bryant said. "I looked up and said, 'Oh, Javy is pinch-hitting.' It was awesome. It's like he just went up there and swung the bat. If he didn't have to run to first base, he wouldn't. It is like he is saying 'I am so good, I am going to get this hit and we are going home.' I am never surprised by him. He has been doing things like this the last couple of years."

Baez's clutch hit also represented the Cubs' fifth walk-off win of the season, the most in MLB. That includes four walk-off wins in their past eight games at Wrigley Field.

"That is what Javy is," Addison Russell said. "He is 'El Mago.' He does things you have never seen before. Playing with him, you know he has all the confidence in the world on getting it done, and we have the same confidence in him."

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine​.