Javier Baez launched walk-off homer in extra innings … Cubs completed four-game sweep with a 4-3 win over the Nationals
After a sensational April in which the Cubs went 17-5, Joe Maddon’s team quieted the critics during the first week of May and proved they were the best team in baseball.
The Cubs swept a three-game series in Pittsburgh and pounded the Pirates in the process. The Cubs outscored the Bucs 20-5 in three games at PNC Park and flew back to Wrigley for a showdown with Dusty Baker, Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and the Nationals.
Joe Maddon was determined not to let Bryce Harper, the reigning NL MVP, beat them that weekend. Maddon walked Harper 13 times in the series and dared Dusty Baker to change his lineup. Baker refused, Ryan Zimmerman could not come up with a big hit. And Bryce Harper was not the same for the remainder of the season.
Kyle Hendricks beat Joe Ross in the opener, 5-2, and John Lackey outpitched Max Scherzer the next day. After taking game three by a final of 8-5, the Cubs had a chance to sweep the four-game series on Mother’s Day.
The Nationals had a 3-1 lead going into the seventh inning. Tanner Roark had a better day than Jake Arrieta. But the Cubs scored two runs in the seventh on a single from Kris Bryant after Trevor Cahill reached on an infield single and Oliver Perez hit Dexter Fowler. Jason Heyward bunted the tying runs into scoring position and set it up for Bryant. Dusty Baker turned to Yusmeiro Petit, and Bryant singled to center to tie the game.
The Cubs pen kept the Nationals off the board for the remainder of the game. Joe Maddon kept walking Bryce Harper and the Cubs executed the game plan to perfection.
Javier Baez stepped in with one out in the 13th and came through with his first big hit of the season.
Baez ripped a 2-2 pitch into the bleachers in left center and the Cubs won 4-3 in 13 innings.
The Cubs completed a 7-0 week against the Pirates and Nationals.
The Cubs posted an 18-10 record in May and by the time the calendar flipped to June, Joe Maddon’s team was 35-20 and had put themselves in position to absorb the bad stretch that would happen over 24 days going into the All-Star break.
Javier Baez has a flair for the dramatic. And his walk-off on Mother’s Day was the first of many big moments on the field for Baez this past season.