After going home for the off-day, Zobrist learned a tough lesson when attempting to arrive in Cincinnati in time for the first pitch.
First there was a rental car issue in Nashville, where he had to wait about 90 minutes for the agency to find a car even though he had made a reservation. Then traffic from eclipse watchers trying to leave town made his ride much longer than expected once he was able to get on the road.
"I should have been here a lot earlier," Zobrist said, managing a half-smile after the game. "I was told I make enough money and should have booked a [private jet], which is probably true, but I guess I'm cheap. I learned my lesson."
Arriving well after batting practice, Zobrist was pulled from the starting lineup, but he nonetheless helped the Cubs to a victory once he arrived, coming off the bench to hit a two-run double in a four-run seventh inning. The Cubs added five more in the eighth and pulled away to beat the Reds 13-9.
"I came back in the dugout and said, 'When you show up for the game when I did, you better do something good,'" Zobrist recalled, adding that he has had actual nightmares about showing up late for a game.
Of all people, Zobrist has always been extremely committed to his routine, so showing up just before game time is about as bad as it gets for him. He needs proper warm-up.
"Are you kidding?" he exclaimed. "Absolutely. Holy smokes. I was flustered for about seven hours today."
The Cubs' offense also showed up late, scoring 10 runs in the sixth-through-eighth innings to erase 3-0 and 6-3 deficits. Zobrist's double came after a great at-bat by Javier Baez, who tied the game with a broken-bat, two-run single to right field.
The Baez single and Zobrist double were part of a 13-hit attack, but none of those hits left the yard. It was the first time since 2000 the Cubs had scored at least 13 runs without hitting a home run. That's really good news for a team that has trouble driving in men in scoring position without home runs. They started Tuesday's game 0-for-7 in that category.
Of course, it doesn't hurt to face the Reds' pitching staff, which had walked nine batters.
The day reminded Cubs manager Joe Maddon of a moment in 2008 when he and Zobrist were with the Tampa Bay Rays. Minor league call-up Dan Johnson's plane was late, so Zobrist got the start in his place, only to see Johnson hit a game-winning home run in the ninth inning. It was nearly déjà vu all over again.
"I told that [Dan Johnson story] to him [Zobrist] before the game and here came that moment, double to right-center," Maddon said.
Zobrist added: "I was there for that game [in Tampa Bay]. It worked out for me, as well."
As it did for the Cubs, who tightened their hold on first place in the National League Central.