Javier Baez ran out to the middle of Wrigley Field with a neon-colored Super Soaker, spraying Albert Almora Jr. and the camera capturing the celebration after Thursday's 5-4 walk-off win over the Philadelphia Phillies, the drops of water dotting the big video board.
If the Cubs felt a little delirious, well, this imperfect 13-inning game lasted four hours and 22 minutes and marked their 10th come-from-behind victory already this season.
"I was looking to do something different," Baez said. "I had it ready since the ninth inning. It took a little bit, but I finally got to use it."
Baez brought a Party Room tradition out from the underground clubhouse and into the open, targeting Almora as a player of the game for his hustle double leading off the 13th and scoring when Phillies shortstop Freddy Galvis threw away a potential inning-ending double-play ball. Ping-pong-style games and water guns are part of The Cubs Way.
"We got like four of 'em and we got some buckets to celebrate when we win," Baez said. "Sometimes we get the staff, so they know they're doing a great job."
This can’t be easy for the defending World Series champs, giving up 35 runs in the first inning so far this season, playing from behind so often and navigating 11 one-run games already. The Cubs are still a first-place team with a 16-12 record and all that muscle memory built up from six playoff rounds across the last two seasons.
"Maybe the baseball gods are on our side," Kris Bryant said. "We would prefer not to have to come back. But if we're going to be put in that situation, we have a good group of players that work counts when the game is on the line.
"Last year, we just went out and we hit it seemed like the whole year. We scored a ton of runs. Our pitchers shut everybody down, so the games weren't as stressful. But it's not going to be like that. That's kind of fairytale land."
The Cubs are going to have to tighten up their game on Friday against a New York Yankees lineup where Starlin Castro is hitting like a batting champion and Aaron Judge is looking like a home run king. That late-inning drama will be harder to manufacture against a deep, dynamic bullpen headlined by Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances.
Almora set the stage for another weekend on national TV after John Lackey had a five-inning start where his ERA crept up to 5.14. And Ben Zobrist got picked off second base in the ninth inning (Bryant lined a harmless single into left field moments later). And Willson Contreras grounded into a 6-9-3 double play against Philadelphia’s five-man infield to waste a bases-loaded opportunity, ending the 12th inning.
Even if the Cubs aren't clicking on all cylinders, backup catcher Miguel Montero lifted Joaquin Benoit's 96-mph fastball into the center-field basket for a game-tying homer in the eighth inning. The Cubs stayed in the picture with lefty Mike Montgomery working the 10th, 11th and 12th innings. The contributions are still coming from all over the roster.
Almora – who showed so much poise as a rookie last season – said he didn’t even notice that left fielder Ty Kelly was slow to grab the ball and gather himself because his instincts screamed double in the 13th inning.
"We never quit," Almora said. "It's on the World Series ring."