Bote flies home to meet new Cub after walk-off

April 21st, 2019

CHICAGO -- David Bote tossed his helmet aside and took the celebratory beating from his teammates. The Cubs' infielder then did a quick on-field interview and made a quick exit from Wrigley Field. It was not clear if he sprinted out of the ballpark still wearing his dirt-stained uniform.

Bote delivered a walk-off single on Sunday afternoon to lift the Cubs to a 2-1 win over the D-backs, and then had to catch a flight for the delivery of his third child. Talk about timely hitting.

"It was really impressive," Cubs shortstop Javier Baez said.

By the time reporters were in the Cubs' clubhouse, Bote was long gone and off to the airport for a trip home to Colorado. On a shelf inside his locker are two baseballs protected inside clear plastic cubes. Each ball has a footprint from when his two young daughters were newborns. Bote will soon be able to add a third baseball to the display.

Needless to say, Bote did not want extra innings -- not with Baby Bote No. 3 in the on-deck circle.

Jarrod Dyson threatened to send the game into extras with a solo home run off Cubs reliever Pedro Strop in the ninth inning, pulling the game into a 1-1 tie. That sent Tyler Chatwood home with a no-decision after he worked six shutout innings in a spot start for Chicago. For the bottom of the ninth, though, the Cubs had Baez due to lead things off.

"When he goes, we go," Bote said in a postgame interview with NBC Sports Chicago before heading to the airport. "Javy's so fun to watch and play with."

Facing Archie Bradley, Baez received a full-count fastball low and outside, but close enough to the corner to force a swing from the Cubs' shortstop. Baez shot the pitch up the first-base line, where it skipped over the bag, bounced into foul ground in right field and caromed off the side wall. That bounce toyed with D-backs right fielder Adam Jones, who lost his grip on the baseball as Baez streaked toward second base.

Baez saw Jones' gaffe and kept hustling to third, sliding into the bag ahead of the throw from right field.

"I just booted it. There’s really no explanation," Jones said. "Big leagues, you give anybody an extra 90 feet, they generally know what to do with it."

Next up was Willson Contreras, who was hit on the left elbow by a fastball from Bradley. Chicago's catcher flipped his bat away, clapped his hands emphatically and pointed back at Bote before running to first base. Standing on third, Baez wondered if Bradley might walk Bote to load the bases for Ben Zobrist. Behind Zobrist was the eighth spot (the pitcher's slot on Sunday), so a pinch-hitting decision would loom, too.

"I was talking to [third-base coach Brian] Butterfield about that," Baez said. "I said they were going to walk him, but they were going to try to make him chase and pitch to Zobrist."

Cubs manager Joe Maddon was asked if he was considering calling for a squeeze bunt with Bote.

"Bradley's tough to manipulate with," Maddon said. "I just wanted to play that part of the game straight up. Again, it depends on the pitcher. If he's like that, it's really difficult for even a good bunter, to find something he can put down in a good spot and perform one of our plays."

So, it was up to Bote to beat the drawn-in infield.

Bradley started Bote off with a curveball low and inside for a ball. The right-hander then fired a 95-mph fastball that sailed up and in, forcing Bote to dodge the heater and knocking him a few steps out of the box. Next came a curveball at the top of the zone, where it popped into catcher Carson Kelly's mitt for a strike.

"He throws that elevated fastball pretty good," Bote said in the TV interview. "So, I was like, 'Get on top of it.' He showed me the curveball there 2-0. It showed me where it needed to be for a strike. Then he doubled up again."

The 2-1 curve from Bradley was over the plate and Bote did not miss. He sent the pitch through the infield with an exit velocity of 109.8 mph and beyond the reach of diving second baseman Ketel Marte. As Baez crossed the plate and Cubs players emptied onto the field, Bote raised his right arm to the sky as he sprinted up the line.

Anthony Rizzo grabbed Bote from behind, while Daniel Descalso jabbed at the infielder's sides. Then, the rest of the swarm engulfed Bote, who now has four walk-off winners in his young career. That includes last season's pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam, which came on Aug. 12 against the Nationals.

Rizzo has done the math.

"Grand slam baby," Rizzo said with a smirk. "And it's another walk-off for him. So, it's fitting."