Well, this is interesting.
When Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper left this afternoon’s game against the Cardinals after six innings, many assumed that he might have aggravated his recent left quad injury. Nope, it was actually because he didn’t run out a ground ball.
It should be said that the play in question was a simple comebacker to the pitcher, so there’s no way he would have been safe even if he busted it up the line. And for a guy who is coming back from a quad injury, there was little reason to needlessly push it on such a routine play. This might even be the safe way to go about things for someone who has been called too aggressive in the past. Alas, Williams thought otherwise.
For what it’s worth, Harper told Andrew Simon of MLB.com after the game that he “respected” what Williams did. But what else is he supposed to say?
Harper’s spot in the order actually came up in the bottom of the ninth inning against Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal, but the Nationals were forced to use Kevin Frandsen with the tying runs on second and third base. Frandsen drove in a run with a ground out, but one wonders how things would have turned out if Williams didn’t have such a quick hook. It might have cost them a chance at a victory.
The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.
After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.
Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.
Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.