From the Nationals perspective, there was not much to remember about last night aside from the standing ovations Jayson Werth received during his first at-bat and after his first trip to right field. Their starting pitcher was quite good and their bats were silent. We have seen that movie before.
But there was one moment worth looking back at. To lead off the eighth inning, Brian Bixler smacked a rather typical groundball to shortstop, a step or two to Jimmy Rollins’s right. Bixler bolted out of the batter’s box … Rollins gathered the ball, took a step, made a strong throw across the diamond … Ryan Howard stretched to catch the ball … Bixler sprinted over the bag … the kind of thing you see hundreds or thousands of time every baseball season.
Except: The umpire waived his arms, “safe.” Bixler had beaten the throw by half a step.
“Just running it out,” Bixler said. “That’s part of my game. If you put pressure on them, you can make a guy rush his throw, or sometimes you beat it out. It happened so fast, man. I was just running hard, running it out.”
Bixler didn’t have a whole to say about his infield single, and, really, there wasn’t much to say. He hit the ball. He ran hard. He was safe. Certainly, it was an impressive piece of hustle. It also showed off Bixler’s speed – the guy can really fly, more so than I had realized. In his eight professional seasons, minors and majors, Bixler has stolen 145 bases while being caught 45 times, a 76.3-percent success rate.
Last night, Bixler was immediatley erased as part of a double play hit into by Wilson Ramos. So it goes for the Nationals’ offense. But Bixler still turned a routine play into something that stood out. Just thought it warranted mentioning.