- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 22, 2021

All Javier Baez could do was shrug as he stood near third base and the Cleveland Indians’ fielders ran toward first base to double him off. The Chicago Cubs infielder thought there were two outs in Monday night’s game, so he ran full-out from first to third on a casual fly ball to left field.

Instead, there was only one out. And Baez’s gaffe led to a double play in Chicago’s 4-0 loss to Cleveland — plus an immediate benching from manager David Ross.

“We just got to make sure we’re focused and locked in during the game,” Ross said (via The Athletic). “Sometimes, our frustrations can distract us a little bit.”

Anthony Rizzo’s fly ball in the fourth inning was caught by Eddie Rosario in left. By that point, Baez stood near third. Rosario threw the ball in to Amed Rosario, who trotted toward first and flipped the ball to Bobby Bradley for the easy out.

Baez and Ross were seen discussing the incident in the dugout after, and Sergio Alcantara replaced Baez at shortstop.

“We had a good conversation, and I think that’s behind us,” Ross said (via ESPN). “Javy’s really important to this team and he’s a leader on this team. When you see somebody that might be a little distracted, you try to get somebody else in there that is maybe focused and give that other person a break.”

Baez admitted he was “surprised” to be benched, but he accepted the move Ross made. He explained he simply lost track of how many outs there were.

“I never want to be out of the lineup,” he said. “I respect his decision. He told me why it happened, and I said, ‘OK, it’s your decision.’”

Baez’s miscue comes during a recent Cubs spiral, with six losses in their past eight games, averaging just 1.8 runs over that span. That skid has allowed the Milwaukee Brewers to catch up. The teams are tied atop the National League Central standings.

The Cubs have run into 25 outs on the bases this season, tied for third most in the majors, with Baez’s a rather avoidable one. Ross and Baez spoke after the game, Baez said, and “there are no hard feelings.”

“I’m not trying to set an example of Javy, ever,” Ross said. “That guy plays his butt off and brings it 99.9% of the time. I did not feel good taking Javy out of the game. I never feel comfortable doing that at all. It was in my stomach the entire game.”

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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