SAN FRANCISCO -- As Cubs shortstop Javier Baez rounded second and saw third-base coach Gary Jones, he thought he'd see stop and certainly not go. It makes sense -- he last had an inside-the-park homer as a Little Leaguer.But Jones' signal was go. Baez followed the instructions, sliding home for
SAN FRANCISCO -- As Cubs shortstop Javier Baez rounded second and saw third-base coach Gary Jones, he thought he'd see stop and certainly not go. It makes sense -- he last had an inside-the-park homer as a Little Leaguer.
But Jones' signal was go. Baez followed the instructions, sliding home for the first inside-the-park homer of his career and 10th at AT&T Park in 18 seasons in the Cubs' 5-3 win over the Giants on Monday.
"I just think the ball took the wrong turn off the wall and the ball went really far," Baez said. "I couldn't see it, so I was just trying to run faster."
It was fast, indeed. He rounded the bases in 16.11 seconds after lifting the fastball offering from starter Matt Moore with a 107.1 mph exit velocity, according to Statcast™. The ball hit off the bottom of the wall at the 421-foot marker in Triples Alley and moved away from rookie right fielder Carlos Moncrief, toward the fourth archway, as Baez recorded the fastest home-to-home time by a Cubs player since Statcast™ debuted in 2015.
Baez easily dusted the Major League average sprint speed of 27 feet per second when he darted 28.6 feet per second on the play. He normally averages 28 feet per second on max effort runs.
It was Chicago's first inside-the-park homer since Anthony Rizzo laced one June 29 last year at Cincinnati. Rizzo had a home-to-home time of 17.49 seconds.
"I knew we were going to have a chance to have him get all the way around the bases, based on the kick," said starter Jacob Arrieta. "This is a strange park. There's certain spots in the outfield, if the ball hits off the wall, good things can happen like that. We were very fortunate in that situation."
Moncrief did his best to gun down the speeding Baez, throwing 307 feet to catcher Buster Posey. It was the seventh-longest throw tracked by an outfielder this season.
"That guy may have the best arm I've ever seen," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "That's Bo Jackson-arm stuff right there. It was that good."
Baez's shot, which scored Jason Heyward for a 2-0 lead, was the fourth inside-the-parker by a visiting player since the Giants' park opened in 2000. Ichiro Suzuki tallied one of those four during the 2007 All-Star Game for the American League squad.
"It's one of the things you can't really describe because of the way it happened and how quick it was," said Heyward. "I was like, 'OK, inside-the-park homer, here we go.' It was just huge to get an early lead."
The homer also extended Baez's hit streak to six games. Asked what the reaction in the dugout was like, Baez kept it simple. "Everybody was really excited," he said. "I was just tired."
Jonathan Hawthorne is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Cubs on Monday.