THE RESULT:  When a team is struggling to hit, as the Washington Nationals have been for the last two days, the result of a game can hinge on one play.  In today's 3-2 loss to the New York Mets, that play was a broken bat ground ball that turned into a run-scoring double.

In the top of the seventh, with the game tied at two, Livan Hernandez issued his second walk of the game -- to Mets catcher Josh Thole -- who took second on a sacrifice by shortstop Ruben Tejada.

Livan Hernandez (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network)

Playing match-up baseball, Manager Jim Riggleman called upon lefty Sean Burnett to face the announced pinch-hitter, lefty Lucas Duda.  But Mets Manager Jerry Manuel pulled Duda back after the pitching change and went to right-handed hitting Nick Evans.

With the count 2-2, Evans fouled off three pitches. He then took an inside-out swing at a fastball that sawed him off, and the ball bounced at a medium pace to first base.  Adam Dunn took two steps to his left and reached for it, but could not come up with the slow roller, and it got by him and into the shallow right field corner.

Thole scored without a throw.

Whether Dunn should have had the ball is not the story.  Dunn hasn't made a play on a ball like that all season long.  He doesn't have the experience or foot quickness to get into position to field that ball.  The larger question is:  would an average fielder at first had have the ball -- or at least done what was needed to knock the ball down and keep it in the infield.

After reviewing the replay several times, it's hard to imagine an average fielder not making some sort of play on the ball.

Riggleman deflected the question when asked in the post-game press conference, instead focusing on saying that Burnett had done his job, and the fluky nature of a right-handed hitter hitting a grounder to first base against a left-handed pitcher.

"It's a game of inches.  When you're winning games, those things go your way and when you're not winning games they don't seem to go your way.  You know, a right-handed hitter hitting a ball against a left-handed pitcher down the first base line, you might see that two or three times a year.  That's about it."

The play spoiled yet another quality outing from Livan Hernandez, who took the loss.  He gave up three earned runs on six hits and two walks, striking out four in 6 1/3 innings.

Wilson Ramos hits his first MLB home run [a 2-run homer to CF in 5th]
(Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Nats News Network)

THE GOOD:  Wilson Ramos.  He went 2-for-3 with a two-run home run to the batter's eye in center.  More glimpses of the future of the Washington Nationals.

THE BAD:  Again, no offense.  Only six hits against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (W, 10-6, 2.91) which is bad enough.  But also:  no walks. 

THE UGLYNothing particularly ugly today.  The only error was a tough-luck ruling for Zimmerman at third.  Commenters noted two plays that qualify:  Morgan's bobble of a single to center that allowed the Mets first run to cross the plate, ruled a "double" but really should have been a single and an error allowing the run, and the Nats failure to score with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth.  Bernadina fouled out and Morse grounded out to end the inning.

THE STATS:  3 Ks, 0 BBs, 1-for-6 with RISP, 5 LOB, 0 GIDP.

NEXT GAME:  Friday, the Nats open a three game cage match with the Florida Marlins.  Of course, the main combatant has his hearing Friday morning, so at least Morgan will miss the entirety of the series, and potentially several-to-many more games.  John Lannan (7-6, 4.73) hosts Josh Johnson (11-6, 2.30) Friday at 7:05 pm.

3 comments

  1. Anonymous // September 8, 2010 at 4:57 PM  

    What was ugly was having the bases loaded with one out and not scoring. That was the game right there.

  2. Matt // September 8, 2010 at 5:07 PM  

    I nominate Nyjer's bobble of that centerfield blooper for "The Ugly". Cost the Nats a run, and it's a play he should have made.

  3. Dave Nichols // September 8, 2010 at 5:42 PM  

    good point, both of you. I guess I was concentrating too much on what I was writing and overlooked both "Ugly" plays. thanks.