CHICAGO — The Cubs won their sixth straight game on Wednesday, all in come-from-behind fashion, while tallying five or more runs in their eighth straight contest. But it was infielder Javier Baez who continued to steal the show — literally.
In the 5-2 win over the Detroit Tigers, Baez stole home for the second time this season, tying the game 2-all in the bottom of the fourth.
“It never gets old watching him play baseball,” Chicago manager Joe Maddon said after the game.
Baez is the fifth player in the past decade to steal home twice in one season and the second Cubs player in the expansion era (since 1961) with multiple steals of home in the same year.
Baez took off for home after Tigers pitcher Francisco Liriano threw over to first base, attempting to pick off Addison Russell.
“I was ready from first pitch, trying to go,” Baez said of the sequence. “I went for it. The sweep move, again, worked. I’ll take that.”
Baez, 25, had to make a dynamic slide to avoid the tag by catcher James McCann as he looked dead to rights. He could have been out at second and third base, in an adventurous run around the bases, before his steal of home. Instead, he was safe everywhere.
“Only Javy,” teammate Albert Almora Jr. said while shaking his head.
The Cubs’ opponent has scored first in each of their past six games, all wins by Chicago. According to research by ESPN Stats & Information, it’s the most wins in a row for the Cubs in that fashion since 2008, when they did it a major league-record eight straight times. They can tie or surpass that mark this weekend when they host the Cincinnati Reds.
Additionally, if the Cubs score five or more runs Friday, it’ll be the first time they’ve done so in nine straight games since 1970. They reached five on Wednesday after catcher Willson Contreras homered in the sixth inning and then doubled home two more runs one inning later.
“It feels good,” Russell said. “It seems everyone is hitting good right now and taking important walks as well. The dugout’s energy is up there.”
So, which is more impressive? The six come-from-behind wins or scoring five or more runs in eight straight?
“I would say scoring five or more runs each game, just because we’re facing good pitchers and we’re finding ways to get on and score,” Almora said. “That’s always special.”
Maddon offered his take.
“I like the at-bats,” he said. “If I want to reduce it to anything, it’s the at-bats. The at-bats, exponentially, have gotten better.”
“[Baez is] in that top 10, kind of part of the Rat Pack from back in the day,” Maddon continued. “You had to go to Vegas to see him. He’s one of those guys — he sashayed in with Sinatra and the boys. That’s how he plays baseball.”