By the time Javy Baez walked from the on-deck circle to the batter’s box, the crowd’s chant had swelled into a roar.
Ja-vy! Ja-vy! Ja-vy!
“It pumps me [up],” Baez said. “But at the same time, I’ve got to stay focused.”
Moments later, the Cubs’ most dazzling player delivered yet again. He connected on his fourth hit of the game with an infield single that evened the score at 7. Anthony Rizzo followed with an RBI groundout to cap a wild 8-7 comeback win against the Reds on Saturday.
The Cubs trailed by five runs twice (5-0 and 7-2) and overcame another erratic performance by Tyler Chatwood. Each of the team’s last eight wins have been in come-from-behind fashion.
“I love the fight,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “I thought we had great at-bats all game.”
Baez provided several of those great at-bats. He singled in the third and the fifth before going deep to lead off the seventh for his 17th home run, which tied Kyle Schwarber for the team lead.
Despite his early production, the Cubs trailed 7-4 entering the eighth.
That’s when they loaded the bases on walks to Victor Caratini and Addison Russell and a pinch-hit single by David Bote. Ben Zobrist then ripped a two-run double to left-center field to trim the deficit to 7-6.
After Albert Almora Jr. struck out, Baez hit a comebacker that Reds pitcher Jared Hughes couldn’t handle. Bote broke for home to score the tying run, and Zobrist scored the go-ahead run on Rizzo’s grounder to second.
The rally surprised no one in the Cubs’ clubhouse.
“That’s what we do,” Baez said. “We fight until the end. We’ve been coming back since 2016, we’ve been doing this. We’ve just got to realize who we’ve got in our lineup. It doesn’t matter how many runs we’re down. I think we can do a lot of damage if we turn the page to the next guy.”
The comeback prevented a loss for Chatwood, who gave up seven runs, nine hits and four walks in 5⅔ innings. He also threw back-to-back wild pitches that allowed two runs to score in the first.
Chatwood said he felt fine after throwing a career-high 120 pitches. He heard several rounds of boos from the crowd.
“I can’t control what they do,” Chatwood said. “If I pitch good, they’ll probably cheer. So I guess pitch better is the moral of that story.”
Baez finished 4-for-5 with a home run, two RBI and a stolen base. He leads the team with 26 multihit games and is batting .465 (20-for-43) with three home runs and 12 RBI in his last 10 games.
It’s not bad timing with All-Star rosters set to be announced Sunday night.
“I think he should be [an All-Star], and I think the fans would want it,” Maddon said. “How could you not have him on the All-Star team? How could you not want him on the All-Star team? That’s what they’re attempting to showcase, MLB-wise, to draw the young fans into the game are players like Javy.
“He has a mass appeal, not only among us, I think in baseball in general. People want to see Javy at this game. … I have to believe, I want to believe, he’s got to get on that team somehow. Because you can look at numbers all you want, but that’s what people want to see. They want to see Baez play baseball.”
Especially in big moments.
“That’s what it’s about,” Bote said. “Javy embraces that. He thrives on it. He’s a special player.”