The scene: Nationals trail the Phillies 5-4 in the bottom of the seventh. They had just scored three to get back in the game. Bryce Harper represents the tying run on third base. Wilson Ramos steps to the plate against Phillies reliever B.J. Rosenberg. He trails 1-2 in the count but has fouled off four tough pitches in the at-bat, waiting for his pitch.
Then this happens:
Who knows what would have happened if the correct call was made and the count evened out at 2-2. Instead, the Phillies escaped the inning by the skin of their teeth, then called on closer Jonathan Papelbon to finish out the game. The right-hander danced around a lead-off double to Ryan Zimmerman, wrapping up the 5-4 victory, bringing the Nationals’ seven-game winning streak to an unceremonious end. As the Reds won, the Nationals drop to six games behind the second NL Wild Card at 78-70.
The call wasn’t as bad as the one made in favor of Joe Nathan earlier this season, but it looks ugly because catcher Carlos Ruiz had to reach for it. When the ball was caught, Ruiz’s glove hit the dirt.
The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.
Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.
The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.
In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.