Jayson Werth has played all 49 games this season, and he’s in the lineup again for Game 50 even after Matt Williams said Wednesday he expected to give him a day off soon. Werth’s streak seemed to be endangered Saturday night in the third inning, when he crumpled to the ground running around third base and knelt on the bag for nearly a minute.
It was a weird play. Werth started on first base when Wilson Ramos blooped an RBI single to right field. Werth went first-to-third, running straight toward third base. In shallow right, the ball squirted past Josh Harrison, and third base coach Bobby Henley started to waive him around. Werth needed to make a sudden, tight turn at third base. But when second baseman Neil Walker gathered the loose ball, Henley shouted at Werth to get back to the base instead.
It looked as if maybe Werth had turned an ankle or a knee. But he was fine.
“A lot of things happened at once that I wasn’t expecting,” Werth said. “I just fell down. It was just bizarre.”
Werth was involved in another odd moment later in the game. Jared Hughes exploded Werth’s bat with an inside fastball. Werth twisted out of the batter’s box amidst a hail of splintered lumber, and the last thing he saw was the ball spinning foul. Somehow, the ball kicked back into fair territory. Hughes scooped the ball and tossed to first as Werth conceded, walking back to the dugout holding the knob of his bat.
Some equated the play to the one that got Bryce Harper benched. (I may have guilty, too, though this was intended to be tongue-in-cheek.) Um, no. Matt Williams didn’t bench Harper for an isolated offense. Harper had taken it easy down the line so often he had been specifically warned not to do it again. Werth plays hard, and he got caught in a weird situation – not unlike Nate McLouth, who on Friday night didn’t budge from the batter’s box on a grounder to first base he thought went foul.