Nationals interim manager Jim Riggleman made a curious decision by putting shortstop Ian Desmond in right field for Saturday’s game against the Mets, and he paid for it in the seventh inning when Desmond misjudged a hard David Wright liner, which turned into a double and allowed Wright to score the go-ahead run later in the inning.
But the Nationals would’ve had 96 losses even if they’d beaten the Mets on Saturday. And after the 3-2 loss, nobody was suggesting the backfire was terribly crushing.
“It was a tough play,” Riggleman said. “We’re putting him out there. The ball may find him in a tough situation, and it did. Ian made a great effort on the ball, and just didn’t come up with it.”
Riggleman said he was planning to move Desmond back to short for the seventh inning had the Nationals taken the lead in the top of the inning instead of merely tying the game at one.
He left Desmond in right, not wanting to move Cristian Guzman to second and take Pete Orr’s left-handed bat out of the lineup. But the strategy didn’t work when Desmond froze on Wright’s liner, backtracking and leaping too late to catch it. Wright scored on Jeff Francoeur’s subsequent double.
“I don’t regret putting him out there,” Riggleman said. “If I had to do it over again, I might not send him out there in a tie game. I didn’t make that move there, and it backfired.”
John Lannan allowed three runs in seven innings, throwing 74 pitches during that time. But former Nats pitcher Tim Redding was even better, giving up just one earned run on four hits in seven innings. He was perfect through four innings, and got his third win of the year.
Lannan remained stuck on nine wins, and his opportunities to hit double digits are now down to two. He got burned by low run support a few times last year, when he wound up with nine victories, but Lannan wasn’t pointing fingers afterward.
“That ball’s tough. It’s his first time out there,” Lannan said. “You need to get his bat in the lineup. He’s swinging a hot bat. That’s how the game goes sometimes.”
Tomorrow afternoon’s series finale pits Garrett Mock against Fredericksburg native John Maine. Talk to you then.