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Nyjer Morgan's improbable night

Washington center fielder Nyjer Morgan played a part in not one, but two of the rarest plays in baseball during last night's 5-3 victory over the New York Mets at Nationals Park.

First Morgan was in the field when Angel Pagan, his counterpart with the Mets, hit an inside-the-park home run -- the first at Nationals Park -- in the fourth inning. An inning later, Pagan started a triple play in which Morgan was on base.

"It's just one of those things where I thought it was a freaky night, you know," Morgan said. "We had an inside-the-park, then we had a triple play. You don't really see that too often."

The last time a team had an inside-the-park home run and a triple play in one game was Sept. 25, 1955, when the Philadelphia Phillies did so against the New York Giants. Like Pagan, Philadelphia's Ted Kazanski hit the home run and began the triple play.

On the inside-the-park home run last night, Pagan drove a ball deep to center, and Morgan retreated to try to make the catch. But the ball sailed over Morgan's head and to the wall as Pagan was in full sprint around the bases. Pagan easily beat the relay throw home to catcher Ivan Rodriguez.

On the triple play, Morgan was heading for second when Pagan made a shoestring catch on Cristian Guzman's shot to shallow center. Pagan then threw casually into the infield, where the ball came to rest by the pitcher's mound.

Catcher Henry Blanco alertly picked up the ball and threw to second, where Jose Reyes was covering and Morgan was standing. Reyes promptly threw to first base to complete the 10th triple play in franchise history. It was scored 8-2-6-3.

"i was just waiting for the call," Morgan said, "but in my view, it just kind of looked like the ball hit the ground before it went into his mitt."

By Gene Wang  |  May 20, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
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Hey Gang....Whew! Nice to get back on the north side of .500....but Nyjer..please....saw a piece somewhere how his defense has been below average so far this year as well.As much as we all love Tony Plush....we need Nyjer back.Or Jason Werth in right and Raja in CF next year? 'Course, it's THIS year that we're playing...and I expect us to be at least close to "in it" to the end. So Nyj....tighten up, buddy! And
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | May 20, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Hey Gang-and oh, BTW-to add to a previous post...yea, dargramp, Guzzie has been a real pro for us. I've always liked him...not his fault he may be payed more than he's worth. And sure, he has his flaws.But for all the vitriol thrown his way- The Rizz stresses having "character guys" in the clubhouse and I gotta believe that Guz is one of 'em. And I actually heard him speak (to Debbie Taylor) last week! OK-maybe he's not real vocal....but I'm glad he's on our squad...just not as the starting s.s.!
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | May 20, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

My soon to be official brother in law, the Mets (and Cowboys which is a disgrace but I digress) fan, was complaining about the Mets having to use journeymen pitchers and guys from the Mexican League and I could not help just laughing in his face. Mets fans complaining like they are a small market team is just too rich. Welcome to the Nationals world of the '08 and '09! Minaya is the worse GM in baseball. Let's make it 6 and 2 on the season so the Mets fans really become unhinged! Lets Go Nationals!

Posted by: mjwies11 | May 20, 2010 9:24 AM | Report abuse


On the Inside the Park, yo mis described he play. Nyjer went back on the ball while thinking that it was going out of the park, he jumps above the wall and would have made the catch except the ball hits the wall to his right waist high. If had not misread the ball he would have played it on the careem and held the dude to at least a tripe maybe a double. No opinion on the triple play, was watching something else.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | May 20, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Agree with zendo. I don't understand why some people live/love to pound Guzman. There is more to worry about in CF at this point. Guzman just does his job.

Posted by: fpcsteve | May 20, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Am I the only one that thinks that Nyjer should have been pulled from the game after the inside the parker? I watched that replay numerous times and each time it looked to me that he just dogged it after he missed the catch.

Once he jumped up on the fence, he literally just hung on the fence for a second or two. Then, he casually jumps down and just sort of looks around and starts to walk towards where the ball ended up. At no point did he show any sense of urgency to get to the ball!

I'm not ready to pin any blame on Hammer or Bernie, especially since the carom was unusual and came back towards left-center and they both had a long way to go to get there, but Nyjer *MUST* get on his horse if he doesn't make the initial catch (and I won't go into the route he initially took in his attempt to "catch" the ball ... let's just say it was rather Milledge-esque).

Posted by: erocks33 | May 20, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

He Gang-nah,erocks, you ain't the only one.....but it was mostly a fit of pique om my part. But he did just hang there....and while I did have the thought of "pull him now!".....mostly I'm hoping a quiet talk from Riggs will get him straightened out. "Hey, buddy-you're our CF. And we don't want you to loose your brashness....but-put yer attention on the game, not the antics of Tony Plush. After all, Tony DEPENDS on Nyjer...otherwise, he becomes Southeast Jerome/Clinton Portis...(not that I am in any way comparing the two.)"
He just seems a tad out of sorts right now.....and while we're at it....Willie-on that Tatis hr in the 9th.....and again, I love Harris - and his lack of playing time is probably a factor in his not quite Willie-like performance-but it looked like THAT was a makeable play, too. Oh well.Nats win!!!
Go Nats!!!

Posted by: zendo | May 20, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Yes, what is wrong with nyjer?

Can't hit
Can't field
Can't steal
Can't run the bases
Can't even bunt

he's become a 5 tool guy in reverse

Posted by: swanni | May 20, 2010 10:34 AM | Report abuse

"At no point did he show any sense of urgency to get to the ball!"

Did you want him to go over and fight Bernadina and Willingham for the ball?

Josh already had the ball by the time Nyjer could have even started running after it. And Bernadina was right there as well.

Posted by: joebleux | May 20, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Morgan peaked just before he got hurt last season. He will not be the center fielder at the end of this season. He is an almost an automatic out and his misplays in the field are worriesome.

Posted by: MKadyman | May 20, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Dear Nyjer Morgan,

Please stop trying to bunt for hits.

Thank you.

Posted by: Kavorka | May 20, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I didn't see the inside-the-park HR, was at the concession stand. I did see the triple play, and it looked to me (section 309, row B) that Pagan made the catch. It was a great play - until he got there, I thought he had no chance.

Great night, though - weather was better, Livan was tough pitching on three days rest, and Drew Storen got his first big league W. I'll be back at Natstown on Sunday to see Lannan pitch against the O's.

Posted by: JCCfromDC | May 20, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Swanni; What game were you watching? Nyjer leaped for the ball and it hit the wall like a shot and richochet back toward the infield better yet go to and see the play for yourself.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 20, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Charlie and Dave said Nyjer's 3 for 14 bunting for base hits - .214. He should stop trying at that rate. He has not played well fundamentally lately at all. The HR last night was misplayed and his throws aren't hitting cutoff men consistently. He needs to tighten it up.

Posted by: utec | May 20, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

And as far as Nyjer's bunting for base hits: that's what speedy, light-hitting guys are supposed to do. It's not just about whether or not the bunt's successful, it's also about forcing the corner infielders to play way in, which increases the chances of slapping grounders by them.

Posted by: joebleux | May 20, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Nyjer Morgan is known for being a slow starter. That said, he is hitting above .250, with a good OBP, which is what you expect from a decent leadoff hitter.

At the All-Star break, Nyjer Morgan and Adam Dunn will be... Nyjer Morgan and Adam Dunn. They'll catch up.

Posted by: jboogie1 | May 20, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Pagan easily could have turned that triple play unassisted.

Now THAT would have been something--the same guy turning a triple play unassisted and hitting an inside-the-park HR in the same game.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | May 20, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Hope so jboogie. I less worried about Dunn than I am about Morgan.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | May 20, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Off the subject,

I was impressed by Livan Hernandez last night. Pitching that well after volunteering to go on 3 days rest.

Livo's style of slop pitching and Bugs Bunny pitches reminds me of Livan's countryman Luis Tiant.

So Livan should be "El Livante."

Posted by: edalder20005 | May 20, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

OKAY!!!!! It's let's browbeat Nyjer now that we can't beat on Guzman anymore what's wrong with all of you do we want to go back to the day's of Lastings Milledge he of the turn the wrong way every time a line drive comes off the bat defense. Nyjer Morgan can play CF i said this yasterday on the blog he misses Marquis Grissom,the current first base coach is a joke how does a triple play happen on a sinking line drive if the 1st is paying attention? Jim Riggleman or Mike Rizzo should have been aware of Grissom impact on Nyjer and Marquis should have been retained so let's stop beating on Nyjer and swanni don't post until you get your facts straight.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 20, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

"Pagan easily could have turned that triple play unassisted."

You seriously think Pagan could have beat Morgan in a footrace back to first base, with Morgan starting at second base and Pagan in center field? Sorry, Pagan may be fast, but he's not that fast.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 20, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I believe that the throw to first was unneeded, all they had to do was tag the runner standing on second for out 3.

Posted by: OldDude | May 20, 2010 12:05 PM | Report abuse

To follow up on the bunting comment...

I agree that the threat of the bunt is just as important as the actual success of the bunt. However, the the infield is already playing way up on him, so the threat has been advertised, and it's time to start hitting the ball.

It's about keeping the fielders guessing, not playing into their hands. Let's slap a few by them and get them to back up a bit, then lay some bunts down.

I'm not hating on Nyjer at all. I just saying it seems like he's really trying to force the bunt when it's not there.

Posted by: Kavorka | May 20, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

So Morgan has sudeenly become a pinata on a team that is exceeding expectations? Boz is right, these sports blogs are troll magnets.

Posted by: Natmeister | May 20, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of bunting, what a fine play by Kennedy on the failed squeeze. Actually may have done as much to win the game with that as with the SF. Got has average up over .250, working out very nicely.

Posted by: markfromark | May 20, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

didn't the Nats sign a pitcher from the Mexican League? Any idea of where he is now?

Posted by: garyolney | May 20, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

So Morgan has sudeenly become a pinata on a team that is exceeding expectations? Boz is right, these sports blogs are troll magnets.

Posted by: Natmeister | May 20, 2010 1:33 PM
This team is on a roll and everyone has to contribute for WINS. Morgan has made himself the pinata by constantly boneheading. It seems once every few games he does something memorable in a negative way.

The following quote stings from NOT ME!

"i was just waiting for the call," Morgan said, "but in my view, it just kind of looked like the ball hit the ground before it went into his mitt."

Nyjer, the play was right in front of you. I saw the replay. You looked to centerfield. Come on, really?

When he gets caught stealing for a league worst 8 times, he says he needs to stay aggressive.

Aggressive is one thing, playing smart is another.

If you subtract 8 caught stealing from his OBP percentage his OBP drops from .337 to .289

Posted by: dmacman88 | May 20, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Markfromark - Good point on Kennedy saving the day on the suicide squeeze!

Posted by: dmacman88 | May 20, 2010 3:36 PM | Report abuse

"I believe that the throw to first was unneeded, all they had to do was tag the runner standing on second for out 3."

This is correct. They could have tagged the bag and tagged Morgan for the triple play, no need to throw to first. Nyjer wasn't going anywhere.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | May 20, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

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