With one out in the fifth inning, the Nationals were watching their lead over the Brewers dwindle after Christian Yelich cut it to 3-2 with a single for one of his six RBIs on the day.
But the play unfolding was one of several fundamental errors manager Davey Martinez said cost his team the lead in the inning and led to 9-6 loss that ended a three-game winning streak.
Having allowed an inherited baserunner to score on an RBI single, and having worked himself into a first-and-third, one-out jam, reliever Gabe Klobosits was looking for a strikeout against Narváez. Even with Yelich stealing second base without a throw, Klobosits generated a swinging strike and two fouls for an 0-2 count.
Kolten Wong, at third, and Yelich, now at second, were on their bags when Narváez lofted the foul pop.
Nats’ first baseman Ryan Zimmerman had the best read on it and moved over to make the play as Klobosits drifted over to back him up.
Of all the mistakes he’d made in the inning, failing to cover home on the foul pop might have been the worst.
“Once they see Zim going to catch the ball, for me, it’s the pitcher always goes to cover home,” manager Davey Martinez after the game
As the ball settled into Zimmerman’s glove, he saw Wong streaking down the third base line, with no one at the plate.
So Zimmerman raced to meet Wong at home, extending the ball and glove over his head in a full Superman dive as Wong came in below him with a textbook, feet-first slide.
The ruling on the field was safe, and a crew chief review confirmed Wong’s foot touching the plate an instant before Zimmerman tagged Wong’s leg.
Rookie catcher Tres Barrera was supposed to back Zimmerman on the play, but Narváez blocked Barrera as the catcher stood and went after the ball while Narváez lingered up the line, awaiting the catch.
The Brewers would take the lead on the next play, when Eduardo Escobar singled off the mound and into center field, scoring Yelich.
Martinez mentioned Klobosits’s mistake as he enumerated the errors that ultimately cost his team the game.
“The walks, the hit batsmen, the interference, not covering home plate, those things, those are the little things that we need to get better at. It’s all the little things,” said Martinez.
The Nationals were charged with only one error, on Barrera, for interfering with Luis Urías to lead off the Milwaukee eighth. The Brewers would score five in the inning, including a grand slam by Yelich, to break the game open.