ST. LOUIS -- Ten times out of 10, Jonathan Lester said, second baseman Javier Baez will turn a double play on a ball like that, which is why the Cubs pitcher was confused when he watched Baez miss a ground ball in the third inning on Sunday night in a
ST. LOUIS -- Ten times out of 10, Jonathan Lester said, second baseman Javier Baez will turn a double play on a ball like that, which is why the Cubs pitcher was confused when he watched Baez miss a ground ball in the third inning on Sunday night in a 4-3 loss to the Cardinals.
"You don't see Javy react to a baseball like that," Lester said. "I said, 'Hey man, what happened? Was the umpire in the way?' He said, 'No, I didn't see it.'"
The Cubs and Cardinals were scoreless in the bottom of the third when William Fowler reached on an infield hit. Aledmys Diaz then hit a potential double play ball to Baez, but the second baseman reacted late, diving for the ball as it passed him.
The problem was that Baez didn't see the ball because it was lost in a white sign on the advertising backdrop behind home plate at Busch Stadium.
"Of all things, the MLB app flip sign in the back was all white, and the ground ball he did not react to, he lost it in the sign," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "It's a pretty big play -- that was a double play for sure. The next inning when [Baez] went out to take ground balls, I just wanted to know which sign it was. That was the sign, and that's what caused the delay. It's pretty much all white."
Maddon talked to an umpire, and they were able to change it to a #CapsOn sign with a dark background.
Fowler reached third on Diaz's single, then gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead on a sacrifice fly by Matt Carpenter.
After the third inning, Lester talked to Baez in the dugout.
"I said, 'If you see it again, say something, and we'll stop and do whatever we have to do to get rid of that thing,'" Lester said. "It's unfortunate that happened because 10 out of 10 times, Javy makes that play. It was weird to see that reaction. I know it was hard hit, but for him to take two steps to his right and then dive back to his left, something wasn't right. Usually I don't talk to those guys and let them do their thing, but if something was wrong, or the umpire was in the way, he needed to say something, and we did and we got it fixed."
Baez said he's had some issues at Dodger Stadium because of the light-colored seats behind home plate are so low. This was the first time he could recall losing a ball like that.
"I didn't see the ball at all until it passed the mound," Baez said. "I realized it was the sign. [Diaz] was getting out of the box, and I still couldn't see the box. There's no excuses, but I just couldn't see the ball."
And if the ball isn't lost in the white background?
"No doubt -- it would be a regular double play," Baez said.
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.