CHICAGO -- If there was one play that stood out in a wacky 10th inning of the Cubs' 6-5 win over the Blue Jays on Sunday, it came in the Chicago half, when Javier Baez hustled at the right time and Toronto catcher Raffy Lopez hesitated at the wrong instant.The
CHICAGO -- If there was one play that stood out in a wacky 10th inning of the Cubs' 6-5 win over the Blue Jays on Sunday, it came in the Chicago half, when Javier Baez hustled at the right time and Toronto catcher Raffy Lopez hesitated at the wrong instant.
The Blue Jays had taken a 5-3 lead in the 10th on Kevin Pillar's RBI single and a bases-loaded walk issued by reliever Justin Wilson. But the Cubs did the little things right in their half to post a walk-off win, thanks to Alex Avila's two-run single.
"Things are never going to be perfect," Chicago's Kyle Schwarber said. "No one is going to have your 'A' game all the time. You have to find a way to grind through it, and we did today."
Schwarber struck out to start the 10th against Roberto Osuna, which turned out to be a good strikeout as he reached first on a wild pitch that skipped to the back wall. He got to third on Benjamin Zobrist's single and then scored on another wild pitch. One out later, Osuna struck out Baez, but the ball got away from Lopez, who simply held onto it, allowing Baez to reach first on a fielder's choice. That was huge.
"Javy runs hard," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. "For the group that wants to criticize the guy, that's a ball in the dirt, about 15 feet from the catcher, and the catcher just blanked out on it. If Javy does not run hard, it's a different result. That's why he was safe. By the time Lopez figured it out, [Baez] had already beat it down to first base."
Lopez looked at Zobrist at third before he saw Baez.
"I was checking the runner and just made a bad throw and had to adjust my feet," Lopez said. "I didn't get my body in the best position to turn and throw to first. ... It was definitely a tough inning."
Said Toronto manager John Gibbons: "I've never seen that before. ... [Lopez] definitely took too much time. Nobody feels worse than Lopie. He's played very good for us back there. But you get a couple of strikeouts and you get a couple of outs on them, who knows how it develops in the end?"
Schwarber also was impressed by Baez's effort.
"I give Javy a lot of credit," Schwarber said. "He was busting butt down the line on a ball that didn't kick away that far. I don't think the catcher realized that. By the time [Lopez] turned around to throw, [Baez] was already there. Kudos to Javy there for running it out. That's a baseball play right there. It's big."
Baez didn't stop. He stole second, and Jason Heyward was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Avila then lined a single to right, driving in Zobrist and Baez for the win.
"You know they can't walk you there, and they have to at least come in the zone," Avila said. "You could tell [Osuna] was struggling throwing his slider for a strike. I figured I'd get something hard, whether it was his cutter or fastball. I was just trying to make hard contact."
Baez did one more thing that won't show up in the boxscore. His secondary lead allowed him to score on Avila's hit.
"This is the nuance of the game," Maddon said. "During Spring Training baserunning meetings, you say that you're being a great teammate when you get a good secondary lead."
It wasn't all good for Avila. The Blue Jays had a runner at first with one out in the 10th, and he moved up on an errant throw by Avila to Koji Uehara, who was trying to signal to the catcher that he wanted a new baseball. Avila couldn't hold up his throw.
"It's not horrible," Maddon said.
No, but Jose Bautista was then intentionally walked, and one out later, Pillar hit an RBI single to go ahead, 4-3.
Somehow, the Cubs rallied for a sweep of the Blue Jays.
"I do love that we don't quit," Maddon said. "We talk about it all the time."
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.