It is a rare thing when a routine tag of a runner caught stealing second base becomes the play of the night. Hell, maybe even of the entire World Baseball Classic. With an introduction like that, it should come as no surprise, then, that it involves Cubs second baseman Javier Baez. He has taken the art of fielding to a whole new level. Call it the mastercraft of tagging.
Let's pick up last night's tilt between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic—each team's first game in the second round—in the top of the 8th. Yadier Molina throws a dart to nail Nelson Cruz and Javy applies the tag without looking at the runner while celebrating the out he's about to get. The dude points at his catcher then drops the hammer without taking his eyes off home plate.
Puerto Rico won 3-1 behind Molina's 6th-inning solo tater, handing the Dominican Republic their first loss since 2009. And Javy wasn't the only one getting in on some sweet defensive action and in-game jubilee. In the first inning, Eddie Rosario cut down Jean Segura at home to keep the DR off the board following a no-out bases-loaded pickle. It brought out the beast in Yadier Molina.
Santa Maria indeed.