Even though the Chicago Cubs lost 4-3 to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday night at Busch Stadium, the team still managed to do something that had never before been done in a Major League game.
The occurrence in question happened in the bottom of the ninth inning while the game was tied at 3-3. After Jose Martinez, facing Cubs hurler Mike Montgomery, smashed a double off the center field fence, Yadier Molina stepped up to the plate with the chance to drive home the game winning run.
He would never get that chance, however.
Instead, Joe Maddon did what no manager has had the ability to do in Major League history: he sent Molina to first base with the first ever no-pitch intentional walk.
Under new MLB rules for this season, pitchers no longer have to throw four straight balls to intentionally walk a batter. In an effort to speed up the pace of play, a manager simply has to tell the umpire that he is intentionally walking a batter, and that hitter gets to trot down to first base without seeing a single pitch thrown.
Coincidentally, the Cubs were also involved in the last intentional walk issued by the traditional method, as Addison Russell received a free pass in Game 7 of the World Series against the Cleveland Indians last fall.