If, prior to Sunday's game, you had somehow managed to miss every single Nats game this season, first consider yourself very lucky. Second, what you saw in the eighth inning, that horrible train-wreck apocalypse of suck? That, kids, is called a microcosm.
With a slim one-run lead in the eighth, it was time for Manny Acta to reenact his favorite scene from "The Deer Hunter."
Acta pulled the trigger, and BANG! In came Julian Tavarez. Tavarez got ahead quickly 0-2 -- a small miracle with this band of stiffs -- before leaving a crappy crotch-high pitch over the plate that Jayson Werth knocked for a single. The Flyin' Hawaiian followed with a walk.
Two on, nobody out. Manny pulled the trigger again.
BANG! In came Jesus Colome.
And then it happened. The ugliest play in baseball history. A comedy of errors where everyone who could did something wrong.
Pedro Feliz dropped a perfect line-hugging bunt toward third base.
Ryan Zimmerman charged in. Colome ambled over. And for a second, anyone watching was sure this was going to end with a hollow "WUMP" sound with the two colliding. But no. It was worse.
Zimmerman realized that the bunt was perfect, and he didn't have a play. As he bent, he pulled back, and let the ball keep rolling.
Colome didn't hesitate though. He snared the ball, whirled, and fired a perfect strike to first base.
Second baseman Anderson Hernandez had rotated over to cover first, and he stood there waiting to make a play -- with an emphasis on stood. He stood motionless, until the last minute when he finally saw the ball heading for his melon.
Here, instead of lifting his mitt, the pro acted like a fan in the stands. He sidestepped the ball, and it zipped past him, down the line in foul territory.
Two runs scored. And the bunter -- the guy who was just trying to make an out! -- chugged all the way to third.
So what got into Hernandez? Blame Zimmerman. After reaching down (but not grabbing the ball), he started to pantomime a throw, but pulled short as if he were pocketing the ball. Hernandez likely saw the aborted throw, and figured the play was over -- at least 'til it whizzed past his head.
Like every other Nats game, terrible defense, bad fundamentals, and crappy relief pitching combined for something unbelievably ugly.
Chris Needham used to write Capitol Punishment. He watched far too much crappy baseball this weekend.