Joe Maddon's reaction to Albert Almora Jr.'s baserunning gaffe may help explain why so many young players are flourishing with the Cubs.
A few pitches after the rookie outfielder smacked a one-out double in the ninth inning, he saw a pitch in the dirt scoot by Yadier Molina and took off for third base.
But the ball appeared to hit home plate umpire Pat Hoberg's foot and Molina pounced on it before making a perfect throw to third to nab Almora, the would-be tying run.
Ben Zobrist followed with a single, but the Cubs' rally fell short there in a 3-2 loss.
After the game, Almora was sitting solemnly at his locker, waiting to answer the call of Chicago reporters.
"I had a good view at second," Almora recapped. "As soon as I saw Yadi reach over and saw it go through, I thought it was gonna go back. I made an aggressive move and it cost us the game today.
"I'm an aggressive player. It just sucks. I feel like I let my team down today. [Cubs starter John] Lackey threw a great game today; the guys kept us in there. It's a tough one to swallow."
Almora said with Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal throwing 100 mph, he was expecting a ball in the dirt to go further than a few feet.
When asked about the play, Maddon didn't bat an eye, immediately coming to the defense of his young player who is just starting his third week in "The Show."
"I loved it," the Cubs skipper said. "I have no problem with Albert. Hits the double in the gap. Molina made a really good play. They made a good tag.
"I never want to coach the aggressiveness out of that young man. I think he's been playing great. They made a good play. His judgement might've been impacted by the ball hitting the umpire in the foot."
Maddon went through all the different scenarios of what happened after Almora was thrown out at third, cautioning that it's not as simple as assuming Zobrist would have singled if the preceding events played out differently.
Almora's teammates brushed off his aggressive mistake, too, chalking it up to bad luck when the ball hit the umpire's foot.
"We've played together since 2013," Willson Contreras said. "I know Almora is a nice guy. He's a good player. I love playing with him. We make mistakes. He was aggressive on that play. There's nothing you can do."