The game was ugly, but what Cubs catcher John Baker did was pretty sweet.
Pressed into service in a 16-inning marathon, Baker threw 11 pitches, six for strikes, walked a batter but saw him erased on a double play. The other out was a foul out, showing that the Rockies couldn’t touch his wicked stuff. In the bottom of the sixteenth he drew a walk, took second on a sacrifice, took third on a single and then lumbered home on a Starlin Castro fly to left, scoring the winning run as the throw home skipped to the backstop.
That Baker was pitching was something less than an accident, actually. Cubs manager Rick Renteria actually used pitcher Jake Arrieta as a pinch hitter in the 13th with two men on and one out, rather than use Baker, his lone remaining position player. Renteria was saving Baker, he said, to pitch. That’s the sort of decision that you can almost laugh at after a win. If things had turned out differently, however, you’d have to really scratch your head. Well, I’ll scratch my head anyway. We live in an era of 13-man pitching staffs. You gotta feel like managers can manage their resources better.
But as it was, Baker pitched for the first time since he played in the Cape Cod League. And he became the first Cubs position player to get a win in more than 100 years.
In a mailbag published on Thursday, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post says he has spoken with Arenado and his agent from the Wasserman Media Group. Based on that, he says the Rockies have not broached the subject of a contract extension with the All-Star third baseman.
Arenado will enter his second of four years of arbitration eligibility after earning $5 million for the 2016 season. He’s due to a hefty pay raise and will continue on that track into free agency after the 2019 season. It may behoove the Rockies to get extension talks started sooner rather than later. Saunders, however, thinks that Arenado wants to see if the Rockies become contenders in the next two seasons before signing the dotted line.
Arenado, 25, enters Thursday’s action batting .293/.361/.567 with 40 home runs, 130 RBI, and 112 runs scored in 678 plate appearances. His 40 homers is best in the National League and the 130 RBI are best in the majors. He has an argument for winning the National League Most Valauble Player Award.
Agent Scott Boras eulogized client Jose Fernandez at his funeral on Thursday. Boras couldn’t even get through the first sentence without breaking down in tears. It was difficult to watch without wanting to sob myself, but it was a touching eulogy that spoke for a lot of people who were fond of Fernandez.