MIAMI - Here is a look at the big turning points in the Nationals' 3-2 loss to the Marlins last night. Consider this an addendum to the Second Look post I filed earlier this morning. There were enough key moments in this game, and I got enough good details from the people involved in them, that I wanted to expand on them here. We'll just go through them one-by-one.
Jason Marquis starts the seventh
The situation: With the Nationals up 2-1 through six innings and Marquis having given up a double and two long fly balls in the sixth, manager Jim Riggleman chooses to stick with his starter at the beginning of the seventh. Marquis allows a leadoff double to Donnie Murphy, who eventually ends up scoring the tying run. The pitch to Murphy was actually a good one; Marquis threw a sinker down in the zone, but Murphy fished it out for a base hit. Still, it's worth wondering what would have happened if the Nationals had started the inning with Tyler Clippard, who could have presented a fresh look.
* Riggleman said he didn't consider pulling Marquis at the beginning of the inning, because the pitcher had only thrown 74 pitches in six innings. "He was throwing good. He was doing a great job," Riggleman said. "He wasn't laboring. He just did a great job. We're not locked into taking them out unless their innings and pitches are way up there, and there was really no reason to take him out."
Jerry Hairston Jr. gets thrown out at third
The situation: The game is tied at 2 in the eighth inning, and Jayson Werth comes to the plate after Hairston drew a walk. Werth rips a 2-2 curveball off the left field wall, a few feet to the right of where Ryan Zimmerman's homer landed, and the ball comes hard off the wall as Logan Morrison plays it on a hop. Hairston is waved around third as the ball comes into the infield, where it's cut off by third baseman Murphy (shortstop Hanley Ramirez is all the way in the outfield). Porter halts Hairston, and second baseman Omar Infante is covering third. Hairston gets caught in a rundown, slowing up as he realizes he's going to be thrown out, and the inning ends with the score tied and Zimmerman on deck.
* Porter quickly took responsibility for the play. "(It was) a bad read on my part," he said. "I picked it up late, and it was too late, but I tried to stop him." When he saw the ball, Porter said his first reaction was to think it might be a homer. "I was saying to myself, 'Get out of here, ball,'" Porter said. "I was hoping it was going to leave the year, but it ricocheted, and to their credit, I didn't get a chance to stop him in time." Asked how much he takes into account who's on deck, Porter said, "You always take that into account."
* Hairston said he understood the decision to go with two outs, and praised the way the Marlins relayed the ball to the infield. Florida shifted so fast that Hairston didn't even realize it was Infante, not Ramirez, covering third. "It's one of those things where you want to be aggressive with two outs," Hairston said. "They made a pic-perfect relay. We just tried to hold up in time. Obviously, the shortstop came in pretty good to back up. Usually, he's not there and I can hustle to beat the third baseman back, but it just didn't happen." And Zimmerman being on deck wasn't an automatic reason to stop, he said. "They could have elected to walk Zim. You never know," he said.
* Riggleman said he hadn't talked to Porter about the play yet, and was following the ball. "By the time I picked up what was going on there, I really don't have anything to say about it," Riggleman said. "I know those things happen. You're trying like heck to score the run. It's two outs, and you're really forcing it. I'm fine with it. It happens."
Werth calls off Danny Espinosa, bobbles 10th-inning pop fly
The situation: With the score tied at 2 in the 10th inning, Drew Storen works Infante to a 2-2 count before throwing him a fastball that leads to a harmless pop-up to second. Espinosa is backing into position for the ball when Werth charges in from right field, calling Espinosa off at the last second. The ball is already too low for an overhead catch at this point, so Werth has to try and make a running basket catch, and the ball bounces off his glove for an error. Five batters later, Infante scores the winning run.
* Werth took full blame for the play. "My read was that, I wasn't sure if Espy was going to get it, so I called it," Werth said. "I had a chance to catch it, and I didn't. It cost us the game. It's a tough spot, and I take total responsibility for that one." He had already gone back to look at video of the play when he talked to reporters, and said it was clear Espinosa could have caught the ball. As the fielder coming in on the play, Werth can call off Espinosa, but he should have used his discretion and let the second baseman catch it. "The outfielder has priority on that, so if you call it, you catch it," Werth said. "I just didn't catch it."
* Espinosa and Werth both said one thing that contributed to the play was that they haven't logged much time together in the field yet. It seemed like a fairly basic pop-up, but Werth's call came in part because neither player has enough familiarity with the other's range to back off a play. "I went back first to my right, and switched to my left," Espinosa said. "It gets better the more we're going to play with each other. We're going to know what each other can do, and we're going to know what we can't do. We communicated out there. I called it, and he called it off. But it's only going to get better as we play together more. You can't do anything about that, really."
* Riggleman, again, called the play a mistake of aggression. "It was typical baseball, where the outfielder calls off the infielder, and he just kind of got handcuffed by the ball," Riggleman said. "I just like the effort. (Werth) really came in hard. He took charge on the play. It's an error of aggression, and we can live with that."