Nationals left fielder Laynce Nix had a feeling it would happen. He had seen this scenario come up in a game before. Playing in left field, you have to be ready to make a play on every pitch.
Nix says when Phillies pinch-hitter Domonic Brown stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs, his team hanging on to a 2-1 advantage, he sensed the ball could be coming to him.
"It was right after a pitching change," Nix said. "It is easy to sort of get on your heels and not be ready. But I knew in that situation, this is the time a play like that can happen. It is important to be alert. I had my mind open to the possibility of a play like that happening at that time. You got to be ready all the time."
Nix said he just felt the play could happen and that thought came from his 500-plus games in the big leagues.
"Sometimes when you play the game a long time you just get a gut feeling on things," Nix said. "You see guys' swings. (It was) a lefty-lefty match up. I think we are all ready to make a play in that situation. I think that is a part of an attitude that we need to have: Where any time, any pitch, whether it is today, tomorrow or the next day, every pitch is the same. I am just glad I was ready to do that at that point."
It was the biggest defensive play of the game. If the ball gets by Nix in that situation, the Phillies score three times and lead 4-2. But they didn't because of Nix's stunning grab. Manager Jim Riggleman says the ball looked like it was easily in for extra bases off the bat.
"When that ball got hit, I thought there was no way that ball was being caught," Riggleman said. "I didn't think either outfielder had a chance. Laynce closed on it really well. He made a great play. It just looked like it was splitting the gap. It was hit okay and was in that area where you have no chance. But he tracked it and did a good job on it."
As a corner outfielder himself, Jayson Werth saw the play as it unfolded and was proud of Nix's effort.
"It was a great play," Werth said. "(Nix) is a great player. He is finally getting the chance to play every day and showing what he can do. Opportunities don't come too easily. When they come, you got to make the most of them. He is definitely making the most of this opportunity. He is playing great for us. I can't say enough good things about him."
An opportunity to play turns into an opportunity to make a game changing play that saved the game for the Nationals. Nix is hitting .303 overall, with six homers and 14 RBI in the last 20 games. It would appear that the opportunity has turned into an indefinite starting assignment thanks to this consistent play.