Sunday’s Washington Nationals game turned into a bit of a disaster for the home team, and it actually had little to do with Chien-Ming Wang’s start. Wang put together a pretty good outing for his first start since June 19, but the Nats defense was full of rare miscues in a 6-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers.
The sun was the main reason for the Nats defensive debacles. Yes, you read that right. The large star in the sky. Bryce Harper lost a Ryan Braun flyball in the sun to lead off the fourth inning. It’s at least the third time this season that Harper has done that. That run later scored as one of just two runs given up by Wang in his final inning of work. In the seventh inning, Jayson Werth lost a Carlos Gomez flyball in the big fiery ball in the sky that allowed Aramis Ramirez to score.
And those were the misplayed balls that were ruled hits. There were also to errors charged late in the contest. Norichika Aoki reached on an error by Steve Lombardozzi, who was a late replacement for Danny Espinosa on a double switch. Rickie Weeks singled up the middle in the eighth, and Harper tried to barehand the ball that got passed him. It moved Aoki to third and allowed Weeks to move to second. Aoki scored on a Braun sac fly with the next batter.
So, there were four huge defensive missteps, and every one of them cost the Nats runs. It’s hard to win baseball games when you make mistakes and almost impossible to do so when you commit this many. These games happen to the best of teams, and the Nats still have some of the best defenders in the game. There’s nothing to be concerned about long term.
Since I lambasted Wang in a post just before the game, it’s worth noting that he looked pretty good in his first start in more than three months. His sinker did a decent job of sinking, and quite a few of his eight hits surrendered were just BABIP raisers, seeing eye singles, or whatever you want to call them.
Ryan Mattheus had the roughest outing of them all though. He gave up three runs on four hits in just one inning of work. Sure, one of those runs scored when Werth lost the ball in the sun, but he let himself get into a jam early in the inning and even got a gift call from second base ump Tim McClelland when he called Rickie Weeks out on a throw from Ryan Zimmerman.
If you were going to draw one great defensive aspect from this game, it would have to be Kurt Suzuki's incredible barehanded grab on the Jean Segura popup on a bunt attempt. You can watch it here.
The Nats only mustered two runs of support, both in the fifth inning, from Ian Desmond, who walked and later scored on a Chad Tracy single, and Danny Espinosa, who doubled and later scored on a Werth sacrifice fly. All-in-all, it’s probably a game the Nats want to forget about and move on, which is exactly what they’ll do.