Baker had a 19-year playing career and is in his 21st season as a manager, but I don’t need to search Baseball-Reference.com’s Play Index to confidently say that he’s never seen a player strike out five times and commit a game-ending, three-base error as Michael A. Taylor did in Wednesday’s 4-3 loss to the Dodgers. The play — a single up the middle that turned into a Little League home run by Yasiel Puig — has to be seen to be believed.
With one out, the Nationals leading 3-2 and Howie Kendrick on first base, Puig hit a groundball up the middle off of Shawn Kelley, who appeared to think he might’ve induced a game-ending double play.
Danny Espinosa made a diving attempt, but the ball got past him and rolled toward Taylor, who charged it as Kendrick prepared to stop at second base.
Kendrick headed to third after the ball slipped under Taylor’s glove and rolled toward the warning track.
This was the Crying Jordan-worthy moment Taylor realized he goofed.
By the time Jayson Werth picked up the ball at the wall, Kendrick was headed home and Puig was around second base.
Kendrick would score easily and Puig slid headfirst into home plate without a throw after Daniel Murphy couldn’t get a handle on Werth’s throw from the fence.
In the top of the ninth, Taylor became just the second player in Nationals history to strike out five times in a game, joining Bryce Harper, who did it in 2012.
“That’s too bad, I mean it’s okay to see guys make an out,” Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully said after Taylor’s fifth strikeout. “I hate to see any ballplayer strike out five times, but that’s where he is. … Taylor’s too big to cry, but I bet we all know how he feels.”
Little did anyone know at the time, Taylor’s night to forget would soon get even worse.
“Unbelievable,” F.P. Santangelo said after the Dodgers extended the Nationals’ losing streak to five games in brutal fashion. “Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. Danny Espinosa almost gets this ball, it gets by him. You see the reaction. Kelley thinks it’s a double play and the ballgame’s over. Michael Taylor, for some reason, charges that out of control. There’s no way Howie Kendrick’s going to go to third base on this. And a lot like his night at the plate, he just missed it. That can’t happen.”
Taylor, to his credit, didn’t shy away from answering reporters’ questions after the game.
“It’s a groundball,” he said. “I got to make that play.”
“We got to stay with [Taylor],” said Baker, who struck out as many as four times in a game only once in his career. “We got to give him some love. Right now, he’s probably feeling like the loneliest guy on earth.”