So much went on over the course of the Nationals' 18-inning loss to the Pirates on Sunday, one in which they managed only one run across two games-worth of baseball, that it's difficult to harp on just one or two mistakes now that everything is finished and the dust has settled.
The Nationals themselves made plenty of mistakes. So did the Pirates. That's why they played 18 darn innings, because neither team could do much of anything on offense in a game that somehow ended at just 2-1 despite its length.
But in the 17th and 18th innings, there were two key mistakes by the Nationals that proved pivotal in their defeat to Pittsburgh. The first was in the bottom of the 17th. Trea Turner led off with a single to left field and as he rounded first, his instincts kicked in. Turner thought he had a chance for a double.
The 23-year-old took off and was beaten easily to the bag by a Starling Marte throw. Turner's fast, but not that fast. And afterwards he owned up to the costly mistake.
"Long game. Very minimal chances to get into scoring position," he said. "The basehit that I had the other day, I saw [Marte] not lob it in, but take his time. When you hit the ball to left field, the middle infielders have their back to you at first base. So, a lot of times the shortstop will cut the ball off not knowing where the baserunner is. I just wanted to be aggressive and take a chance. Looking back at it, obviously it was a dumb play because it didn't work out. But that's baseball, learn from it and move on."
Manager Dusty Baker was glad to see his young infielder be aggressive rather than timid, but hopes Turner understands that was not the time for it.
"That wasn't a bad play. I've seen Hank Aaron do that," Baker said. "Turner was cursed by his own speed. If he didn't have speed, he wouldn't have even thought about it. He probably won't make that mistake again. But when you've got speed, then you try things. That just wasn't the right time to try it."
The second crucial mistake was not nearly as noticable. It wasn't until after the game when Baker pointed it out that it was realized.
This was on Marte's go-ahead homer in the top of the 18th. Marte blasted a first-pitch fastball deep into the stands in left field to put the Pirates up for good.
Baker, though, said Marte should have been intentionally walked. The Pirates were running out of players just like the Nats were, and they had reliever Jon Niese on deck.
"That was a tough one to lose. At the end of the game I saw Niese on deck. That was my fault. I didn't put the fingers up soon enough to walk him and before I could, he hit the first pitch out of the ballpark. I knew they were out of men. I knew they were out of players and pitchers just like we were. It hurts to make a mistake like that. I was aware of the situation, but [it happened] before I could get Wilson [Ramos'] attention. I said to Mike [Maddux], 'hey man, we've got Niese on deck.' Before I could respond, he hit the first pitch out of the ballpark," Baker explained.
Like Turner, Baker didn't put blame on anyone else but himself.
"It falls on me. I got a scorecard right next to me," Baker said. "I couldn't get Wilson's attention. It just happened so fast. First pitch. I take full responsibility for that action."
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