In the ninth inning of the Nationals’ 8-4 victory over the Phillies tonight, Jayson Werth provided what Ian Desmond called, “probably one of the bigger at-bats we’ve had all year.” With the Nationals clinging to a one-run lead and two outs, Werth rolled a two-RBI, game-sealing single up the middle off reliever Justin De Fratus.
The hit was a big play by itself, but the scene made it memorable. The crowd jeered Werth during his entire at-bat, even more than usual. While he was on-deck, a ball rolled to him, and he turned to flip the ball to a pack of fans behind the Nationals’ dugout. At the last moment, Werth faked the toss and then rolled the ball into the dugout.
Afterward, Werth provided a detailed, glorious explanation of what had happened with the ball, the fan and the fake toss:
“Earlier in the game, I flipped a ball in the right field seats to a fan. It bounced off her hands and landed on somebody’s lap. A guy reached over, a Phillies fan, reached over into her lap, grabbed the ball and then threw it back on the field.
“So in the ninth when I got the ball, I was going to flip the ball. There was a group of kids. Behind the kids there were these unruly middle-aged men that to me appeared to be snarling. It’s the ninth. Who knows. I kind of got the sense that maybe they were intoxicated. I was going to flip it to the kids, and then I thought, maybe I shouldn’t, because of the people right behind the innocent little children there.
“So I just flipped it in the dugout. Evidently, that rubbed some people the wrong. After the events in right field, I felt it was better to maybe not throw it in the stands.”
It begs the question: did those innocent kids ever get a ball?
“I looked in after I was on first base, and Mikey [Morse] was feeding what seemed like the whole bag of balls,” Werth said. “I think he made up for it for me.”