Chicago — Twice he should have been out. Twice he was safe.
There are cats that don't exhibit as many lives as Javier Baez displayed during Wednesday's game at Wrigley Field, which saw the Cubs whip the Tigers, 5-2, on a scorching Fourth of July afternoon.
Baez escaped death row in a series of fourth-inning escapades that saw him score a run that knotted the game at 2.
It began after he led off with a single against Tigers starter Francisco Liriano, who moments later had Baez picked off, and running in a panic for second, where he was destined to be dead on arrival.
John Hicks was playing first base and thought he made a strong peg to second. But neither Jose Iglesias nor second baseman Niko Goodrum could snare Hicks' relay as it bounced into left-center field, sending Baez to third.
"I tried to put the ball on the base," Hicks said. "I didn't know who was fielding the ball — Iggy or Niko.
"I think Niko tried to get it, but the runner shielded him."
For his next act, Baez stole home. Liriano walked the batter who followed Baez, Addison Russell, and then whipped a pick-off throw to Hicks, intending, at the very least, to keep Russell tight.
Baez had drifted down the line at third and, on Liriano's throw, Baez headed for the plate.
"I could see him he was far off (the bag)," Hicks said. "He was very antsy. By the time Frankie (Liriano) lifted off, he (Baez) was off."
Hicks' throw to James McCann was sound. Baez, though, all but did a head-first square dance as he spun wide around the plate's extreme right side, getting in a hand that beat McCann's tag.
"His slide was better than what we could do," said McCann, who had to mind baseball's rule that disallows blocking the plate. "It was just too far to reach.
"Still, we just barely missed him."
Tigers bench coach Steve Liddle, who replaced Ron Gardenhire after the Tigers manager became dehydrated in Wednesday's inferno, said McCann was handcuffed by baseball's new plate policy.
"You have to give 'em a lane to slide," said Liddle, mentioning that infielders can straddle a bag, but catchers have fewer options.
Liriano was good again Wednesday, which is something baseball's July shoppers probably noted after the Tigers left-hander had another quality start.
ESPN's Buster Olney observed via Twitter during Wednesday's game that Liriano's opposing OPS against left-handed batters is a stingy .420, which could make him tantalizing to a playoff-chasing team.
"No, I don't think about that," Liriano said of trade chatter that could extend through this month, and even into August when waiver deals can be made. "Whatever happens, happens."
The Tigers out-hit the Cubs, nine to seven, Wednesday. Not that it showed up in the final score.
Iglesias, who could be hitting his way into a trade should injuries spur a team to shop for a shortstop, was 3-for-4 and is now batting .273.
Goodrum got another start at second base and had a pair of hits, including a double. Goodrum batted .381 on the six-game road trip.
Nick Castellanos hit a home run, as did Hicks. Castellanos has a five-game streak and is at .309. Hicks is batting .280 after mashing his eighth homer of the year, 415 feet into the left-field bleachers.