Sunday afternoon’s game between the Nationals and Royals was a pretty good game. It’s really too bad Adam LaRoche and Ryan Zimmerman decided to stand around and watch it rather than play in it.
LaRoche and Zimmerman both made epic defensive mental mistakes that probably cost the Nationals a chance to pick up a game in the Wild Card standings.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, with a runner on first and two outs, Billy Butler hit a rocket to Adam LaRoche, which he did not field cleanly. LaRoche recovered the ball relatively quickly with–as the evidence shows below–plenty of time to make the out at first. Instead, LaRoche stood flat footed and didn’t move.
To be fair, Craig Stammen should have been covering first base. But if LaRoche had been hustling, it would not have mattered.
The series of pictures above show LaRoche could have easily made the out at first. The Nationals only needed one out to end the inning. Instead, he inexplicably looked at second base, giving the slow Butler plenty of time to lumber down the line.
Ryan Zimmerman’s mistake might have been worse. LaRoche’s mistake might be attributed to a bad decision (thinking he could get the out at second). Zimmerman was just plain lazy.
With the bases loaded, Royals catcher Salvador Perez hit a hard ground ball that Ian Desmond could not field cleanly (noticing a pattern?). With the bases loaded, there is always a force out at third. A ground ball forcing Desmond to his right probably makes third base the easiest out. Ryan Zimmerman should know this and he should immediately move to the base.
Instead, he just stood there and watched the play. Everybody’s safe. Nationals lose.
I realize this is a game. Players will make mistakes. I will almost always forgive poor performance.
I cannot forgive laziness. And I cannot forgive lack of effort.
“We gave it away,” said Davey Johnson about the game.