WASHINGTON — As a general rule, it’s common to dismiss an athlete’s poor performance as only one in a number of other negative occurrences leading to a disappointing team loss.
Michael Taylor’s hitless, five strikeout performance, and ninth-inning fielding error — er, mental error — which allowed the tying and winning runs to cross the plate for the Dodgers Wednesday evening, does not seem befitting of such a dismissal.
It seems unjustly cruel for such a talent-driven game, displaying two of baseball’s brightest young starters — 19-year-old Julio Urias for Los Angeles; 23-year-old Joe Ross for Washington — and one which remained tied 2-2 through four scoreless middle innings, to have ended so haphazardly.
For a moment, when Wilson Ramos broke up the scoring drought with a solo homer to put Washington up 3-2 in the top of the eighth, it appeared as though the Nationals might snap their four-game losing streak and fly into Milwaukee on a high note.
Shawn Kelley, attempting a four-out save carried over from the final out of the bottom of the eighth, got Joc Pederson to strike out swinging for the Nats’ first out in the bottom of the ninth. Two outs away.
Howie Kendrick singled to right, giving the Dodgers a fighter’s chance and the Nationals the potential for a game-ending double play.
Yasiel Puig followed up with a hard grounder to short which cruised past the outstretched glove of Danny Espinosa, and in the direction of Taylor in center field.
Charging toward the ball, Taylor appeared to lift his head an in attempt to locate the lead runner, but in doing so, he neglected to complete his primary objective — fielding the ball.
The ball amazingly traveled past its second defender (Taylor) and all the way to the outfield wall, giving Kendrick and speedy Puig plenty of time to beat Jayson Werth’s third-line-of-defense throw to the plate for a walk-off Little League home run (officially recorded as an RBI single with an error).
Here’s video of the play.
Nationals fans were left stunned and confused as to how a hard-hit ball, inches from becoming a game-ending double play, could instead result in a series sweep and Washington’s fifth straight loss.
Twitter was an unsavory mess.
It brings to mind another unfortunate play by Taylor, last season.
Hopefully, for Taylor’s sake, we just witnessed the worst game of his career.