Javier Baez Driving Cubs' Winning Ways

The Cubs' magic man has been at his best.

Bruce Levine
April 24, 2019 - 9:15 am
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CHICAGO (670 The Score) -- A big part of the Chicago Cubs' resurgence since their 2-7 start has come from outstanding starting pitching. That includes three strong starts by Jose Quintana, capped Tuesday night with seven innings in the team's 7-2 win over the Dodgers.

But for all the steady efforts from the starting rotation, the Cubs have gotten a little bit of magic as well. The electricity was once again was supplied by Javier Baez.

"I think we feel his energy all around this place," Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said of Baez.

Baez showed his full array of skills including a crazy optical illusion infield base hit that few had ever seen before. Baez should have been an easy out on a slow roller to first baseman David Freese in the second inning. 

Related: Watch: Cubs' Javier Baez Jukes His Way To First Base

Instead, as Freese lunged to tag Baez streaking down the line, the Cub shortstop stopped for a second, veered to the left one step and then passed Freeze as the infielder stumbled into foul territory.

"The guy has the best instincts in the game," Contreras said. "What he did today was just awesome. That in my mind is one of the best base hits ever." 

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Baez did a heck of a lot more. He scored all the way from first base on the Contreras double into the left-field corner, drew a walk and hit his team-leading seventh home run of the season. 

The infield base hit that Baez had created on memory and instinct was stored in his mind.

"I saw the same play when Billy Hamilton did it three or four years ago," Baez said. "That was the first thing that came to my mind when I stopped to see his reaction. His body just kept going so I knew I didn't leave the line that I could keep running."

Baez is 15-33 (.455) with five doubles, one triple, three home runs, eight RBIs, 10 runs scored and two walks in his last eight games. 

Baez's creativity and baseball IQ never surprises his teammates or manager Joe Maddon.

"It was (coach Brian Butterfield) that compared Javy to Gayle Sayers right there," Maddon said. "I just stopped and said, 'I am with you.' It was Javiesque, Javy-like. Pretty entertaining. What he does is always unexpected. That is just him playing in a playground when he was a kid in Puerto Rico somewhere. There is no fear in his game. His game is a game. He sees things in advance. He is fearless."

Baez made three outstanding plays in the field as icing on the cake. He was asked about an off switch. 

Does he have one? 

"I think anything you see in your mind about plays is possible," Baez said. "There is more that people can do but they don't realize it."

The 26-year-old magic man is a different player now using the entire field for his hitting target.

"That was always my goal," Baez said. "Keeping my body behind the ball, reacting to the pitching side. Sometimes I change my plan and start looking inside. Once I keep to my plan and stay focused I should be good."

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