The foulest of pop-ups

Lately, the five scariest words for Washington National fans are “it’s popped-up in foul territory.” (They replace “the Nats relief pitcher is. . .”). That’s because foul pop-ups have become a major adventure for the worst team in major league baseball.

I’ve seen first baseman Nick Johnson dropped two in recent weeks. In one case, the batter used his new lease of life to hit the game-winning home run.

The left side of the Nats infield hasn’t been faring much better. During the weekend series in Tampa, Ryan Zimmerman was nearly hit on the head by a foul pop-up he had managed to “lose.” In addition, Christian Guzman failed to catch a pop-up because he ran into the Nats “bullpen” catcher (in Tampa, pitchers warm up in foul territory). The catcher had his back to the play, naturally, and no one warned him about the onrushing Guzman until the last second.

At the time, the go-ahead run was on second base, but the Nats dodged that bullet when the beneficiary of Guzman’s collision struck out. Unfortunately, the next batter singled home the winning run when his ground ball hit thrid base and deflected away from the Nats fielder.

“Ground ball near foul territory” are now the second scariest words for Nats fans.

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