White sign behind home plate tricks Cubs' Javier Baez on crucial play

ST. LOUIS -- Perhaps the outcome of the Chicago Cubs' season-opening game would have been different if not for a white sign behind home plate that camouflaged a baseball headed for second baseman Javier Baez.

The play happened in the third inning of a scoreless game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night. With Dexter Fowler on first base, Aledmys Diaz hit a hard ground ball to Baez, who was shaded toward second base.

But the ball skipped to the left of Baez and into right center field, allowing Fowler to go to third base. Matt Carpenter drove him in with a sacrifice fly to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.

"I'm not afraid to make mistakes and when I make them there are no excuses, but I didn't see the ball at all until it passed the mound," Baez said after the game. "I realized it was the sign because he was getting out of the box and I still didn't see the ball."

Had Baez fielded the ball, the Cubs could have turned a double play, thwarting a scoring chance while limiting starter Jon Lester's pitch count. Between innings Baez explained what happened to his manager, so Joe Maddon kept an eye on the sign when the Cubs took the field for the bottom of the fourth.

Once again the white MLB sign was visible, so Maddon asked the umpires to make sure it was rotated out.

"Of all things the MLB App sign was all white, and that ground ball he didn't react to he lost it in the sign," Maddon said. "That was a big play."

So a sign with a blue background was rotated in for when the Cubs were in the field. The problem was solved, but the damage was done as the Cubs eventually lost the game by a run, 4-3.

"There's nothing you can do about that," Baez said. "It was hit hard, but it was one foot to my left. It was a double play."

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Baez blames sign for missed play
Baez blames sign for missed play
Second baseman Javier Baez explains why he missed a ball seemingly headed towards him for a double play in the Cubs' 4-3 loss to St. Louis.
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