WATCH: Javier Baez’s inside-the-park home run sparks Cubs to win over Giants
SAN FRANCISCO – From his diving stops, off-balance throws, and even his ability to keep his hands on a falling piece of gum in the dugout, the Cubs’ second baseman loves to put on a show at AT&T Park.
Javier Baez did so in the National League Division Series a year ago, dazzling fans with his plays in the field and .375 batting average in the four-game triumph en route to a World Series title.
It was only fitting that his first at-bat of the 2017 season in San Francisco would feature a flair for the dramatic.
Stepping to the plate in the second inning of the Cubs’ first of a three-game series with the Giants, Baez hit a pitch deep to center with a man on and rounded the bases for a two-run inside-the-park homer. His head-first slide into home gave the Cubs a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in a 5-3 victory late Monday night that improves the Cubs to 59-52 on the season.
It was the only hit of the night for Baez but was the only one he would need as he provided a memorable 15-second sprint around the bases.
With Jason Heyward on first, Baez hit a Matt Moore pitch to the deepest part of AT&T Ballpark in right-center field. It hit the wall and bounced towards right field away from right fielder Carlos Moncrief. At first believing he may have hit a homer, Baez turned up the speed rounding first and then around second and when he got to third he was waved around to score.
Moncrief’s throw home was strong and on target, but Baez was able to slide in underneath the tag of Buster Posey to finish off the two-run homer. It was the 16th of the year for Baez but the first inside-the-park round tripper of his career.
Perhaps energized by the moment, the Cubs would add another run in the third and two more in the fifth to boost the lead to 5-0. Jake Arrieta kept the Giants scoreless through five innings before allowing two runs in the sixth and a run in the seventh to end his evening.
After a rough Sunday against the Nationals at Wrigley Field, the bullpen finished the final 2 2/3 innings scoreless as Wade Davis picked up his 24th save in another AT&T Park game where Baez provided the true San Francisco treat.