I will say this about the Nats: If you come to the ballpark on any given night, there’s a good chance you’re going to see something you’ve never seen before.
Usually, that’s something detrimental to the Nats’ cause, but tonight it actually helped them out.
The situation: Bottom of the fourth, bases loaded, Alberto Gonzalez at the plate. Gonzalez hit a hard, sinking liner to right field. Jeff Francoeur was there to make the play, and Ryan Zimmerman prepared to tag up from third. But Francoeur flat-out dropped the ball, so everyone was off to the races. Zimmerman scored and Adam Dunn made it from second to third, but Francoeur was able to get the ball in to second base in time to force out Austin Kearns.
So how do you score that play? Well, according to Rule 10.08(d)(2), the batter gets a sacrifice fly and an RBI, but the runner is out at second on a fielder’s choice (in this case, 9-6). I never knew you could be credited with a sacrifice fly and still reach base, but apparently you can. (Thanks to Nats PR director John Dever for pointing me to the right spot in the rule book for that one.)
Anyways, after the bizarre play, the Nats added another run in conventional fashion, with Wil Nieves (who? Wil Nieves!) singling to right to score Dunn.
Those two runs look pretty big right now with John Lannan cruising. The lefty has scattered five hits but hasn’t allowed a run, though he got some help from fine defensive plays by both Nyjer Morgan in center and Cristian Guzman at shortstop.
Halfway through this one, the Nats are playing (dare I say?) a good ballgame.