It looked like Anthony Rizzo had just lifted a relatively routine fly to the gap in left-center. And then it didn’t.
Left fielder Adam Duvall and center fielder Billy Hamilton were converging on the play and it looked at first as if there might be a collision. Hamilton appeared to wave his teammate off, but Duvall kept charging. The slight center fielder slid to make the catch, but either his vision was obscured or the ball just ticked off of Duvall’s glove. Either way, the ball ricocheted out to the wall in left as Hamilton writhed in pain with his face in his hands.
It’s really hard to see in real time, but the ball actually hit him in the face. You really hope Hamilton’s okay, as that’s a pretty frightening situation.
Absent that obvious concern, watching Rizzo’s reaction to the whole thing was worth the price of admission. He started respecting 90 right out of the box but then dropped into an idle as he made the turn at first. Almost as soon as he touched the bag, however, he saw that the ball was loose and Duvall was heading full speed in the opposite direction. Eyes on the play the whole time, Rizzo looked like he was going double-time. It’s almost like watching your DVR on fast-forward.
And then you’ve got third base coach Gary Jones trying to pick a fight with Don Quixote as he waved Rizzo home. The big man was breathing heavy down that home stretch there, just willing himself through the last leg of the round trip. According to Statcast, the fleet-footed first baseman reached a maximum speed of 18.6 miles per hour as he took just under 17.5 seconds to go from home to home. That number surely would have been lower had he been busting it from the start, but I’m pretty sure Rizzo’s just fine with the end result.
Ben Zobrist and Kris Bryant had singled ahead of the unlikely speed merchant, giving the Cubs a crooked number on the board after just three hitters. They did not relinquish the lead and would go on to add six more runs, two via more traditional homers from Addison Russell and Albert Almora Jr. Must’ve been a super fun day on the mound for Reds starter Cody Reed, who gave up all the home runs and was responsible for 7 earned runs in just 4 innings of work.
Inside-the-park home runs are some of the most exciting plays in baseball, particularly when they come from guys you don’t expect to hit them. Here’s the video of the play, including both the real-time version that tracks the ball and the slo-mo angle that focuses on the runner:
What a way to cap off a nice get-right series after all the Chicken Littles had gotten to chirping after the Cubs stumbled a bit. Now back to 25 games over .500, the Cubs head to New York to tangle with the Mets for four games before getting the Reds and Braves (rescheduled from earlier rainout) in a brief homestand. Then they close the first half in Pittsburgh, a team whose number the Cubs have had in a big way and that appears to be really struggling in general. Good times.