CHICAGO — The Chicago Cubs swear that second baseman Javy Baez could win a Gold Glove award no matter where he plays on the field.
What they didn’t envision is that he would also morph into Joe Morgan as the offensive hero of the night, hitting an eighth-inning homer into the leftfield basket for 1-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants at Wrigley Field .
It was only Game 1 of the NL Division Series, but if Friday night was an indication of what’s in store the rest of this series, it could be an absolute classic.
It’s Bob Gibson and Juan Marichal on the mound.
It’s Willie Mays running down balls in the outfield, Brooks Robinson gobbling up balls at third base, and Johnny Bench at the plate.
The only bad part about this sensational Division Series is that it’s only a best-of-five series, and not best-of-seven, or even best-of-nine.
These two teams epitomized playoff baseball with unbelievable pitching, fabulous defense, and enough defensive gems to fill out a highlight film.
Jon Lester and Johnny Cueto put on sensational pitching performances, giving up just one run and seven hits in 16 innings.
Lester, after escaping a two-on, two-out jam in the fourth inning, proceeded to retire 13 consecutive Giants hitters.
Cueto, who gave up just three hits, had retired 12 of the last 13 batters he faced, striking out five of the last eight, until Baez hit a 92-mph fastball that just cleared left fielder Angel Pagan and the left-field wall.
Defensively, Giants second baseman Kelby Tomlinson put on a clinic, robbing Ben Zobrist in the fourth inning and Anthony Rizzo in the seventh.
The only question the entire night was who would blink first.
It was Cueto, giving up the Giants' first run after 23 consecutive scoreless innings in the postseason.
One mistake, and the Cubs capitalized.
It’s only one game, of course, but it was the game that worried the Cubs, knowing they haven’t played a meaningful game in two weeks, and had four days off.
They got back their mojo.
In the next few days, we’ll see if it lasts.