Nats will stay aggressive on base despite a pair of snafus Sunday

The Nationals bats were unable to get much going against the Giants on Sunday, so Michael A. Taylor and Trea Turner tried to get aggressive on the base paths.

Taylor stole one base but was also was caught stealing at second base when he overran the bag. Turner was caught off of first base on a tricky move by Giants starter Derek Holland.

Nationals manager Davey Martinez said he never discourages his players from being aggressive on the bases, it just did not work out in their favor on Sunday.

“Yeah, we’re trying to play aggressive,” Martinez said. “And that one, Trea, ... he thought he balked, but he didn’t. And then Michael had the base stolen but he just came off the base.

“But we want to be aggressive. I actually like when Michael stole third there, too. And he’s doing well. He’s getting on base. He’s taking his walks. He’s hitting the ball to right field. It’s good to see.”

Evidence the Nats have been much more aggressive running this season is demonstrated by Taylor’s 17 stolen bases, matching his career high from last season. Taylor is hitting .308 with 16 hits, two homers, eight RBIs and six stolen bases in his last 15 games. He is still striking out, but a slower pace than the start of the season - 10 times in his last 15 games. He had 21 strikeouts in the previous 15 contests.

Turner argued with first base umpire Paul Nauert after the pickoff saying that Holland’s move was a balk. But the shortstop changed his opinion after seeing a postgame video replay.

“From my vantage point, I thought I saw a lot of momentum going towards home plate,” Turner said. “Looking back at the tape, I think it was just a good move. First time I’ve been over there against him, I think. And I wasn’t trying to steal. I just thought he had already made his move to the plate. I actually was looking at home plate waiting for the pitch, and then I realized it didn’t come, so I was in trouble. Good move, and hats off to him.”

Turner has a team-leading 18 stolen bases this season. He can empathize with Taylor trying to steal second late in the game and not being able to stop as he slid over the bag, then getting tagged out on the leg by shortstop Brandon Crawford.

“He was safe. I’ve been there, done that plenty of times,” Turner said. “I guess it looks bad on his part, but he was safe. The difference between being smart and dumb is holding onto the bag. That’s tough. That’s a fine line. If they’re giving it to you, steal it. Same thing with his first stolen base. Normally, most people don’t steal third with two outs, but if they’re giving it to you, steal it. I think the aggressiveness is always good, as long as you’re thinking it through. And like I said, he was safe.”

trea-turner-stealing-white.jpgEven with the caught stealing, the Nats still lead the National League in stolen bases with 50. They are also tops in stolen base percentage at 80.65 percent. They are second to the Cubs (29) in intentional base on balls with 24.

So the Nats will continue to run when they get on base, a staple of Martinez’s offensive philosophy. The problem Sunday was that they had only three hits and drew four walks, limiting those chances to create offense and put pressure on the pitcher and defense.

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