CHICAGO — In the aftermath of a blowout victory, it could seem odd to point to a moment only a few minutes into the first inning as a turning point. Then again, there is always the chance that a game would have taken a different path.
In the opening frame of the Cubs’ 13-4 win over the Braves on Saturday, Chicago starter Trevor Williams picked off Ronald Acuña Jr. after a leadoff walk. It cost Atlanta a dynamic baserunner and stifled a potential rally.
“That game could’ve went the other way really fast,” Cubs manager David Ross said. “That pickoff turned it around.”
With reigning National League MVP Freddie Freeman in the box with a 2-0 count, Williams quickly stepped off and fired a throw to Anthony Rizzo. The first baseman swiftly tagged Acuña’s right leg as the Braves’ star reached for the base.
Initially, Acuña was deemed safe, but Ross asked for a moment to allow Brad Mills — the Cubs’ assistant director of run prevention, and replay coordinator — to review the replays. Mills quickly relayed that Ross should challenge the safe call.
“[Mills had] the guts to say, ‘Challenge it,’ early on in a game,” Ross said. “That’s a tough one that hamstrings me throughout the game if he’s wrong. It was definitely close.”
When the Cubs challenged the play, Williams had more confidence in the outcome.
“We’re only going to take a look at it if…