Cubs, Javy Báez feel fans' impact vs. Padres with ‘playoff’ vibe

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Cubs feel fans' impact in ‘playoff’ atmosphere vs. Padres originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

After Javy Báez worked the count full in a second-inning plate appearance, the crowd rose to its feet and started chanting “Javy, Javy.”

The Cubs were trailing the Padres 1-0, and Kris Bryant had just tripled with two outs to give Báez a chance to tie things up.

But when San Diego starter Chris Paddack offered a 3-2 changeup over the middle of the plate, a little to the outside, Báez had other plans.

“As soon as I hit it, I knew I hit it really good,” Báez said of the 455-foot home run he cranked to the batter’s eye in center field.

Báez stopped for a second to admire his shot, as the elated Wrigley Field crowd let out a roar as loud as any since the ballpark’s capacity increase from 25 to 60 percent this past Friday.

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That was one of many moments where the Wrigley faithful made some noise Monday, as the Cubs hit five home runs, including two by Báez, in a 7-2 win on Memorial Day.

Monday’s 24,824 fans in attendance tied for most at Wrigley this season. That made it a special atmosphere in its own right. But the Cubs playing San Diego, who entered the day tied for first in baseball with 34 wins, took it to the next level.

“It felt like a playoff game, especially playing against these guys,” Báez said, “with [Fernando] Tatis [Jr.] over there and [former Cubs catcher Victor] Caratini for the first time back here.

“It’s fun, and obviously with the weather and the wind blowing out, it was a great day for us.”

Third baseman Patrick Wisdom, one of several Cubs filling in on a banged-up roster, joined Báez in hitting two home runs Monday.

“How does Javy say it? ‘Large,’ right?” Wisdom said of Monday’s atmosphere. “Man, that place was rocking today. It was awesome to hear.”

The fans made themselves heard, and also felt. One attempted to catch Kris Bryant’s solo home run with their cup of beer, coming up empty on both the ball and the beverage.

Whether it could be a playoff preview for five months from now, the win put a ribbon on the Cubs' strong 19-8 May, following a sub-.500 April.

"We knew we had a good team starting the season," David Ross said. "When you get to prove your beliefs and have a really good month like we just had, it's always encouraging. But we have got a long way to go as well."

It all made for a lively day at the Friendly Confines.

“The energy, day game, Memorial Day — you heard some USA chants there at the moment of silence at 3 o'clock," Ross said. "Good energy from the fans. It always brings a lot of energy in our dugout.”

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