Video: Javier Baez steals home in Game 1 of the NLCS
The Cubs are good. Bear with me here. You’ve seen them on paper, the match-ups that always skew heavily in their favor before a playoff series or a weekend set at Wrigley Field. You know Kris Bryant put an MVP-worthy season together and Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, and Kyle Hendricks can each make a compelling case for the Cy Young Award. You know their bullpen had the third-highest K/9 rate, at 9.92, among major league bullpens in 2016 and their offense clocks in first place with 38.7 fWAR on the year.
You know all of this already. And yet, sometimes it takes a play this good and this rare to drive the point home. (Or maybe it doesn’t, and I’m just in denial most of the time. There’s a case to be made either way.)
In the second inning, with Jason Heyward on third base and no outs, Javier Baez crushed a Kenta Maeda slider for a double to drive in the second run of the night. He advanced to third on a wild pitch, then tore down the third base line when Jon Lester showed bunt at the plate, crossing the bag a second before the ball thumped into Carlos Ruiz’s mitt for the tag.
According to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, the last Cubs’ player to steal home in the postseason did so in Game 4 of the 1907 World Series, when leadoff batter Jimmy Slagle nabbed home plate from under the nose of opposing catcher Boss Schmidt in the ninth inning.
This, on the other hand, is how I’d imagine the Dodgers felt following the play: