Javy Baez doesn’t start, still hitless after pinch-hitting

Some guy named Jimmy Sheckard went 0-for-21 against the White Sox during the 1906 World Series. It’s still the Cubs record for the longest hitless streak to open a postseason.

Next on that less-than-illustrious list of Cubs October performers is Javy Baez, who wasn’t in the Game 3 starting lineup Tuesday night against Dodgers right-hander Yu Darvish with his skid at 19.

Manager Joe Maddon was reluctant to take the best defensive infielder on his team off the field, especially a player who made a name for himself nationally with a co-MVP performance in the National League Championship Series last year.

But the Cubs had just seven hits and three runs to show for 18 innings in Los Angeles in the first two games of the series. So they looked first for left-handed production against Darvish, then Baez’s quickest path back onto the field with the lead.

Javy Baez

That lead came and went quickly. Baez entered the game as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning and popped out, making him 0-for-20 in the postseason.

Maddon plans to have Baez in the lineup Wednesday against left-hander Alex Wood. It’s not lost on Maddon how Baez shined against the Dodgers last fall.

“And he still can. He’s still capable,” Maddon said. “Javy’s been that guy that throughout his minor-league and even major-league career can be awful for a couple days at the plate and then all of a sudden be spectacular. I always have that in my mind with him.”

Baez was 13-for-38 (.342) with two walks, a game-winning homer and seven RBI in the first two rounds of the postseason last year.

He finished the regular season this year with a 17-for-52 surge (.327) with four walks and two homers. But he has eight strikeouts in eight hitless games since.

“It’s been frustrating,” Maddon said. “This kid is so good. He’s been such a big part of us. I know the offense is going to come back to him.”

Wade and see?

Maddon said closer Wade Davis had no soreness or physical issues beyond normal day-after soreness after his 44-pitch, seven-out effort to finish Game 5 of the NLDS on Thursday night.

But he said he still planned to check on Davis’ status before the game Tuesday, five days after that lengthy relief appearance.

“That would be for extra — four or five outs,” Maddon said. “I always check. I can’t just assume. That was a heavy day for him the other day. And going into that last game in L.A., we talked about one inning only and not to get him up [without putting] him in the game.”

Maddon still was taking news-media and social-media heat for his decision Sunday to bypass Davis for John Lackey, who gave up the two-out, walk-off home run in the ninth.

Maddon said even a one-out situation in the tie game was off the table the way he, Davis and pitching coach Chris Bosio game-planned for Davis that night.

But physically he was OK, Maddon said.

“I think he just got mentally exhausted,” he said. “Forty-four pitches, he hasn’t done that in a while. And also the seven outs and what it meant. And, honestly, the plane ride itself, sitting on the tarmac [when the charter was diverted]. There was a lot of non-rest going on right there.

“So it was hard to recover, I think. He was fine for the last game. But we set up the parameters before the game.”

Follow me on Twitter @GDubCub.

Email: gwittenmyer@suntimes.com

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