Defensive lapses a growing concern
The Washington Nationals came undone in yesterday's 7-6 loss to Baltimore for many reasons, but sloppy fielding was among the major culprits in the team falling for the eighth time in 10 games.
Cristian Guzman's throwing error in the bottom of the ninth allowed pinch runner Jake Fox to score the winning run, but even before that, the Nationals were having issues in the field. Guzman committed an earlier error when he let what appeared a sure double-play ball roll under his glove, and shortstop Ian Desmond had two errors as well.
Manager Jim Riggleman addressed Washington's fielding woes today before the second game of three against the Orioles at Camden Yards, and he left no doubt the Nationals are in dire need of improvement in one of the most fundamental aspects of the game.
"We're just in a tremendous defensive slump," he said. "Hitters get in slumps. Sometimes defensive players get in slumps, but I think there's a little aura hanging over our club right now that some people question whether or not they're going to make the play, and we just got to get out of that."
The Nationals' defensive miscues in the infield coupled with the heartbreaking loss overshadowed one of the most dramatic plays in the big leagues this season, when center fielder Nyjer Morgan robbed Corey Patterson of what seemed a sure home run in the third inning. Patterson drove starter J.D. Martin's 2-1 offering to deep center, where Morgan retreated to the warning track and timed his leap perfectly before making the catch several feet above the wall.
Morgan downplayed the catch following the game, essentially calling it routine for him, and instead focused how disconcerting the loss was considering the Nationals had built a 6-0 lead and appeared well on their way to an easy win.
"It's just a play," Morgan said. "I'd rather talk about the loss more than the catch. The catch was nothing. Wish we would have gotten that W."
In the last series between Baltimore and Washington at Nationals Park, Morgan himself was guilty of a fielding lapse when he slammed his glove after failing to make a catch in the outfield and thinking the ball had gone over the wall for a homer. Instead, left fielder Josh Willingham, who had been calling over to Morgan to try to tell him the ball was still in play, ran over to pick it up and throw back to the infield.
"We've just got to create an atmosphere here where we believe they're going to make the plays," Riggleman said, "and they've got to believe they're going to make the plays, but it's all talk. I can talk about it all day. We've got to do it."
June 26, 2010; 2:17 PM ET
Categories: Cristian Guzman , Ian Desmond , Jim Riggleman , Nyjer Morgan
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