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Washington Nationals’ five-man infield comes up short in 4-3, extra-inning loss to Yankees

Even three men on the left side can’t stop a walk-off dribbler...

Washington Nationals v New York Yankees
The New York Yankees’ DJ LeMaiheu slides toward the plate with the wining run after Nationals pitcher Tanner Rainey couldn’t handle a dribbler by Gleyber Torres. The Nats deployed a five-man infield but still loss on a ground ball.
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

Between the extra-innings baserunner and their newfound pitching inefficiencies, the Washington Nationals were in a pickle in the 11th inning Saturday against the New York Yankees.

With the score tied and the bases loaded, the visiting team could not afford to let a ground ball get through the infield.

“When you walk two guys and you put them on third, then you put yourself in a (bad) situation,” said losing pitcher Tanner Rainey, who walked two to start the 11th and did not retire a better.

Manager Davey Martinez gathered his players on the mound and brought in Jordy Mercer to replace Kyle Schwarber, deploying three men on the left side of the infield and two on the right.

“We played the five-man infield as you can see at the end, we got the ground ball, and it wasn’t hit hard enough to get the guy out at home,” Martinez said afterward.

“Rainey tried to make a great play, he couldn’t come up with the ball.”

Rainey had already thrown 10 pitches, two of them strikes, in walking Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge but remained in to face Gleyber Torres. He got ahead in the count, 1-2, and offered a slider, in the same spot where he’d gotten a strike on the previous pitch.

Torres gave Rainey the weak contact he was looking for, but it was too weak. a dribbler to the third base side of the mound.

“I mean, slow roller up the third base line, getting over there as fast as I can, may have rushed it a little bit, may have had more time than I thought, not really sure, still haven’t seen anything on the end of the game, but just trying to make the play, hopefully get the guy at the plate, and then start over and battle again.”

Rainey got to it before Starlin Castro, but he couldn’t find the handle. His momentum carried him, and the ball toward the third-base line, but by that time, DJ LeMahieu was across the plate with the winning run.

“Sometimes you win games like that, sometimes you fight back and things just don’t happen your way,” said Martinez.