Adam Eaton and Victor Robles singled in back-to-back at bats in the opening frame of the game on Saturday night, for two of four hits that LA’s starter, Walker Buehler, allowed in seven scoreless innings of work in Dodger Stadium, but a truly puzzling moment followed.
An error on Robles’s single put him and Eaton in scoring position, at second and third, and Juan Soto took a walk to load the bases in the next at bat, before Robles just wandered off second base after ball four to Soto and made his way towards third. Did he think the bases were loaded?
Why in the world did he just wander off the bag?
Nats announcers on Victor Robles and the play of the game:— Rudy Gersten (@DCBarno) May 12, 2019
“In all honesty, it’s one of the worst base-running mistakes we’ve ever seen” -Bob Carpenter
“It is. It’s the big leagues, that can’t happen. That can’t happen anywhere.” -F.P Santangelo pic.twitter.com/zIQh3NoQLG
“It was kind of — I’m going to say this about Robles,” Martinez began, “I love the kid, and as we all know, he plays the game the right way, he plays hard, but sometimes the 21-year-old comes out in him. He just, he thought the umpire called time out, and he was going to walk over to see our third base coach and talk to him, and obviously [the umpire] didn’t, so it’s going to happen with a 21-year-old. I talked to him, but you know I said, ‘Hey, we need you, so keep your head up and keep playing hard.”
Robles ended up going 1 for 3 with a walk on the night, seemingly unaffected by the brain cramp on the basepaths, and he took a key walk with two on and one out in the eighth, to load the bases up before Juan Soto’s RBI single and Gerardo Parra’s grand slam made it a 5-2 game in the Nationals’ favor. So, at least Robles didn’t take his mistake into the field or let it affect him at the plate in what was a tight game.
When the lineup was released for Sunday’s series finale in Dodger Stadium, however, his name was not included. Was it punishment for the gaffe on the basepaths?
According to Martinez, it was just an opportunity to give the rookie outfielder a day off after he’d played in all 39 games this season (starting in 37).
“Yeah, he’s been playing a lot so this gives him two days,” Martinez said, as quoted by MASN reporter Byron Kerr, with the off day tomorrow giving Robles an extended rest.
“He’s available to play. Just wanted to give him two days and come back Tuesday.”
So, to clarify, it was not punishment?
“No punishment whatsoever,” Martinez explained. “Like I said, 21-year-old kid that plays really hard and I love the way he plays. I do.”
Robles had a .252/.303/.441 line, seven doubles, six home runs, seven walks, eight steals in 10 attempts, and 44 strikeouts over a total of 158 plate appearances at the end of Saturday’s game, and he’s heated up recently, going 7 for 25 (.280 AVG) over the last eight games.
His eight stolen bases were the tied for the most in the National League (and sixth in the big leagues) before the start of play on Sunday, and he led NL rookies in runs scored (tie, 25), in doubles (tied for 3rd), hits (36; tied for 3rd) and homers (tied for 3rd as well).
He’s made mistakes, sure, and will make more, but for a 21-year-old in the majors, he’s off to a good start.