CHICAGO -- After being asked to describe the latest theatrics of All-Star Javier Baez, teammate Willson Contreras smiled while delivering an accurate summation.
"We call him 'El Mago' for a reason," said Contreras, referring to Baez's Spanish nickname that translates to "The Magician." "I love this guy. He's got the best instincts in the game, and what he did tonight was awesome."
Baez applied his instincts and talent to reach first base safely in the second inning of the Cubs' 7-2 win over the Dodgers after swinging at a pitch several inches outside the strike zone.
Baez hit a grounder toward David Freese, who was playing about 20 feet off the first-base line but had plenty of momentum as he charged the ball.
After noticing that Freese was near the foul line with the ball, Baez took advantage of Freese's momentum by slowing down quickly and cutting to his left. Freese swiped at Baez while running into foul territory but missed the tag and allowed Baez to dive to first safely for a hit.
"If I would have kept going, (Freese) was going to run me over," Baez said. "He's a big dude."
Baez recalled Billy Hamilton pulling off a similar move with the Reds several years ago.
"That was the first thing that came to my mind, is stop," Baez said. "See a reaction. (Freese) couldn't stop. He kept going. And I know I didn't leave the foul line. It was everything good."
Baez said he's cut inside the foul line before, but only after an errant throw from an infielder to first base.
"It's just something that comes to me, a reaction," Baez said.