PITTSBURGH - The Nationals cut the Pirates' lead to 6-2 in the fourth inning, when Jayson Werth blasted the first pitch he saw from Jeff Karstens to deep left field. And Werth made a tremendous catch at the right field wall to end the fourth inning, making up for his rough start in the field and saving a run when he crashed into the fence to rob Neil Walker of an extra-base hit.
But Ian Desmond made his second error of the night, giving the Nationals three this evening on stolen-base plays, and it took Werth's catch to save a run.
The error in the fourth was initially charged to Adam LaRoche, who threw high to Desmond after Jose Tabata took off on an attempted pickoff play. But a scoring change gave Desmond his second error of the night, and he now has six for the year, which leads the majors. In the first inning, he couldn't hang onto a solid throw from catcher Wilson Ramos on Ryan Doumit's stolen base attempt and was charged with the error.
On both plays, he's gotten shaky throws (from Ramos and LaRoche). But most of his errors have come on fairly routine plays, and he's hitting .205 on top of that. Danny Espinosa, meanwhile, made a great stop in the third inning, ranging deep in the hole to slide for a ball at second, and throwing out Ryan Doumit from his knees.
You wonder if, when Ryan Zimmerman comes back, the Nationals would consider moving Espinosa to shortstop, using Jerry Hairston or Alex Cora at second and letting Desmond work out some of his fielding issues at Triple-A Syracuse. They've shown plenty of confidence in the second-year shortstop, and by all accounts, he looks to be a big part of their future. But he's on pace for more than 50 errors at the moment, and while he's looked much more solid with his throws this year, he's still struggling to turn basic plays into outs. I'd love to hear some thoughts on this - do you let Desmond work through things up here, or would you send him down to iron them out?