HOUSTON - Two ridiculous defensive plays were made by Nationals outfielders tonight.
One of them resulted in an out. The other only temporarily held one runner from scoring, but was still just baffling.
Denard Span’s basket catch while falling to the ground on the hill in center and Kevin Frandsen’s blind backhanded pick of a ball off the scoreboard in left are the two plays I’m describing. And those plays were blowing up social media during tonight’s game.
Here are reactions from the clubhouse to those two plays, along with a couple of other notes:
Jayson Werth on which defensive play was better: “I would say the play in left with Frandsen was a little more impressive. You don’t see something like that that often. I’ve played left here. It’s a tricky area out there. I think last year or the year before, (Roger) Bernadina made that great play to save a game.”
Span on his grab: “I didn’t practice it like that. Tony (Tarasco, first base coach), during early batting practice, he was hitting them up there, and I kind of was playing it off the hill. I wasn’t trying to catch the ball in the air. I wasn’t prepared for it.
“Off the bat, I knew it was hit hard. I put my head down and ran, and looked up and I thought the ball was way over my head. I kind of overran. Once I passed the track, I knew that the hill was coming pretty soon. I just tried to put myself in a good position to catch the ball and brace myself for the hill.
“The play happens so fast. But in the back of your mind, you know that the hill is there. Once I got to the warning track, I knew it was coming soon. The main thing, I was just trying to keep my eye on the ball, no matter whether I backpedaled on the hill or not. That’s why I tripped on the hill.”
Span on his stolen base in the ninth off Josh Fields, putting him in scoring position: “He was a guy I was able to steal on. He was slow to the plate, and I had the green light. Tony told me to go ahead, go for it. I just stole the bases. ... (Tarasco) told me that at first base. We usually look at the starting pitchers. We don’t look at the bullpen guys. Tony has all of his notes in his back pocket. Once I got to first, he told me, this is a guy you can get. He has a pretty good move to first, but when he goes home, he’s around a 1.4 (seconds to home plate). I just went for it.”
Span on Frandsen’s grab: “I was confused. I didn’t know what happened. He had his back turned to the wall, and all of a sudden, he was throwing the ball in. I saw it. But it took me a while to watch the replay. I saw the Houston bullpen. They were throwing their hands up. That was quite impressive.”
Frandsen on what he saw on the play in the third inning when he grabbed the ball with a backhand pick: “(Jason) Castro hit a ball that really, without any wind, it would be right at the bullpen. That’s where it was. Halfway through the outfield, it just took a sharp left. I looked up and I saw the wall was right there. I started sprinting to make sure. I put my glove out just to make sure it came down right off. It’s like the guy that makes a bad route and a diving play. I got lucky on that. Those two runs ended up scoring, so it wasn’t that big of a deal.”
Frandsen on reacting very nonchalantly: “What else are you supposed to do? Get it and be like, ‘OOHAHAAH!’ I don’t know. You go through those scenarios where anything freakish thing can happen. It doesn’t matter.”
Frandsen on what people in the dugout said to him afterward: “They were just like, ‘How the hell did that happen?’ I wish I could tell you. Stick your glove out, and maybe things go in there.”
Frandsen on if he was shocked when the ball landed in his mitt: “Yeah. If I went for that and tried to do that, that would be pretty awesome. There was no effort in making that happen. It just happened.”