There’s an old baseball saw that you should never make the first or third out at third base. What does the conventional wisdom say about making the third out—the game’s final out—trying to tag up and move to third base, but leaving second base before the ball is caught?
“If you get beat, you get beat,” Tommy Hunter said after the Phillies’ 5-4 loss to Washington. But: “We’re beating ourselves a little bit.”
It was a particularly painful loss, coming almost entirely thanks to two crucial throwing errors from Carlos Santana and Jorge Alfaro, and the baserunning gaffe by pitcher Vince Velasquez.. Let’s run it down.
Aaron Nola, a Cy Young candidate, allowed just one earned run over seven innings and outpitched Max Scherzer for the second time in a week. The Phillies carried a 3-0 lead into the seventh, when this happened:
That’s how a 3-0 lead becomes 3-2.
And here’s how a 4-3 deficit becomes 5-3:
This game ended the only appropriate way, with Velasquez, inserted as a pinch runner and the potential tying run, leaving second base too early on a fly-out to center. The Nats spotted it immediately, and despite the Phillies’ appeal, he was out. Double play, game over.
“He’s not instructed to tag up there,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He’s an inexperienced baserunner who gave us a very valiant effort just to go out there and be ready to run right there. He was prepared for that moment, he was anxious for that moment, ready for that moment and he just got a little overzealous. He and I just chatted about it. He understands that he can also score from second base on a base hit right there. It was just a pitcher — a very athletic pitcher — running the bases for us without much experience in that game situation.”
If you want to know how things are going, resident Philadelphian Dan McQuade says this was “possibly the worst loss of the season but also maybe not even the worst loss this month.”
Pat Neshek, the hard-luck loser, was similarly philosophical:
“I know you always say ‘This is the worst one’ every night, but I think everybody said that at the time that this is the worst. Which one is really the worst when you have 12 of them?”
This was the Phillies’ eighth loss in 10 games, and 14th in their last 21. They now trail the Braves by 4.5 in the East, their biggest deficit since June. This is all Miles Teller’s fault.