His nickname is El Mago (The magician) for a reason.
“It really is a magical act,” said manager David Ross with a smile after the game. “He just creates chaos.”
It’s a piece that you will probably never see again.
With Cubs Catcher Willson Contreras At second base with two outs up in the third inning, Baez hit a routine ground ball against the third baseman Erik Gonzalez. Gonzalez’s litter for first baseman Will Craig was a little on the baseline but Craig caught the ball while Baez was right in front of him.
“My first thought was to go upside down, quite a distance from the baseline, but the throw came so early,” explained Baez. “I was just trying to get Willy to score, even though there were two outs.”
So Baez started returning home to avoid the label. Craig followed him down the line, though he could have just stepped on the first base and finished the inning.
“I’m just improvising,” said Baez. “At the moment I can react pretty quickly.”
As Baez slowed as he approached home, Contreras came toward the plate from the side of the third base. Instead of tagging Baez or even returning for the first time to step on the bag, Craig turned the ball for the pirate catcher Michael Perez as Contreras slid home safely. Baez was only a few yards from home – and he signaled that Contreras was safe before making his way back towards First.
“He [Craig] I got rid of the ball, “said Baez.” I didn’t know if I had to [run] because I’ve gotten into a shabby state. “
In fact, Baez had to run. If he hadn’t made it safely to first base, Contreras’s run wouldn’t have counted. So Baez started while Perez had the ball at home and Craig was just yards away.
Perez tried to throw the ball to the second baseman Adam Frazierwho just passed to cover first. The connection was not made when the ball went into right field and Baez landed on second base. He scored on one Ian Happ Single.
“It was just a weird game,” said Pirates center fielder Bryan Reynolds said. “It was just weird.”
Baez was credited with the choice of an outfield player, while Perez received a mistake for his throw. According to the statcast, it took Baez 15.54 seconds to reach the first base. This is the longest time an outfield player has voted first in at least the last three seasons.
“I’m pretty good at tagging myself and not being tagged by people,” said Baez.
If the pirates had marked Baez or stepped on it first at any point in the sequence, the run wouldn’t have counted – even if the exit had come after Contreras crossed the plate. Baez’s return home was by the rules as long as he didn’t leave the baseline or hit the plate. The Cubs’ dugout burst into laughter and the play immediately went viral.
.@ javy23baez broke out a trick we’ve never seen before. 🤯
– MLB (@MLB) May 27, 2021
“He’s got that kind of him,” said Ross. “You can call it Swag or Baseball IQ. He plays the game like a kid. I think that’s why a lot of people fall in love with him.”
Craig wasn’t made available to reporters after the game when he started pitching Tyler Anderson Granted, no one yelled at Craig just to mark the first base.
“It was quiet out there,” he said.
Pirate manager Derek Shelton blamed himself.
“It’s up to me,” Shelton said. “We need to know. I guarantee you will never see this again when I’m here. … Our boys need to know the rule.”
The game helped the Cubs defeat the Pirates, but the postgame wasn’t about the Cubs’ winning streak of four games – it was all about Baez.
“When I called him to safety, it occurred to me that I had to go first,” said Baez. “I was pretty tired.”
Ross simply added: “El Mago. That’s it.”