Taylor Davis' ‘unlikely' hero moment lifts Cubs to huge win over Cardinals


When the Cardinals chose to intentionally walk Kyle Schwarber to load the bases for Taylor Davis in the fourth inning Saturday, it seemed like a no-brainer move.

St. Louis had just jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the game in the top half of that inning and looked to have Yu Darvish — and the Cubs — on the ropes.

Davis was 0-for-6 on the season entering that at-bat and was not regarded as a big home run threat with 0 dingers in his 24 MLB at-bats and only 31 longballs over nine minor-league seasons. Couple that with the wind blowing in at Wrigley Field at 8 mph and nobody was predicting a game-tying grand slam in that situation.

Of course, you know where this is all going, even if you didn't watch the game or see the highlight. 

Davis smacked the first pitch into the left-field bleachers to tie the game and watched as the Cubs bullpen kept things even until Javy Baez's own hero moment in the bottom of the eighth inning. 

It gave the Cubs their sixth straight victory as they improved to 18-12 on the season and pulled within a half-game of the Cardinals in the division.

"That's so unlikely," Joe Maddon said of Davis' grand slam. "I'm not degrading him or anything, it's just unlikely. He crushed that ball. [Cardinals pitcher Michael] Wacha just made a mistake right there and he did not miss it. 

"Very unlikely event right there, but he's an outstanding defensive catcher, he's hit well in the minor leagues also and hopefully that's one of those things that can get this guy really rolling offensively. But he does a really good job receiving, calling a game, etc. And then to do that, it's quite a moment for him."

What's even more unlikely about Davis' Arya Stark moment was the fact it was only his second start since he was called up from Triple-A Iowa on April 12 to replace the injured Victor Caratini. Davis had notched only 6 plate appearances across a span of more than three weeks prior to Saturday afternoon.

But Maddon and the Cubs wanted to pair him up with Darvish again after the battery worked well together last weekend in Arizona. Plus, the Cubs need to give Willson Contreras a day off somehow coming up, so Saturday was as good a time as any.

The Cubs are in the midst of a 10-game homestand without an off-day and only have only one breather (May 13) between now and May 30, so there's no way Contreras would be able to catch every game during that stretch. In the three weeks since Caratini got hurt, the Cubs have had so many off-days that they've naturally been able to keep their star catcher fresh and haven't had to rely on Davis much.

Before the game, Maddon spoke about the importance of depth and then watched as the Cubs' little-used backup catcher gave his team a boost with the bat against a division rival even though he was in there more for his work behind the plate.

"We do have the depth there and he's been really touted loudly by the guys upstairs," Maddon said. "Analytical guys for years have really liked his work based on how well he receives the baseball."

Davis said the whole moment still hadn't set in for him yet but his phone was ringing off the hook after the game and he was informed the Cubs were able to retrieve the baseball for him as a keepsake. 

"Amazing," Darvish said. "I was watching from the dugout — that was, like, perfect. It looked like a movie."

Baez eventually played the hero alongside Davis as Saturday afternoon turned into evening, but the Cubs' shortstop actually celebrated his catcher's homer more than Davis did.

"I pimped it myself," Baez said. "I was at third base and as soon as the ball was hit, I knew it was going. The wind was blowing in, too. He really crushed that ball. It was a huge moment for him and his family and our teammates."

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