Lucky for outfielder Juan Soto, his Washington Nationals hung on to edge the interleague rival Baltimore Orioles by a score of 6-5 on Sunday (box score). It's "lucky" for Soto because in the fourth he had what could've been an outcome-altering mental lapse.
Here's a look:
Andrew Stevenson was on third for Washington, and with two outs he was going on contact. Had Soto been hustling, he very likely would've been safe at first, which meant Stevenson's run would've counted. Soto, however, probably assumed the ball was going to stay foul and didn't run. Catchers typically field pop-ups with their backs to the field, as Pedro Severino did here, for the very reason that such balls tend to drift toward fair territory, and that's exactly what happened much to Soto's chagrin.
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You can tell from Soto's reaction at first base that he realized he'd made a mistake and was fairly angry at himself for it. However, such self-flagellation wasn't enough for manager Davey Martinez:
Dave Martinez says he told Juan Soto that not running out that popout to the catcher was "embarrassing for the whole club," then had him apologize to the team.— Jesse Dougherty (@dougherty_jesse) May 23, 2021
There's no surer path to the managerial doghouse than not running out a batted ball, particularly when it turns out you (probably) would've been safe had you run it out. Possibly compounding matters is that Soto was 0 for 5 at the plate and has been suffering through something of a power drought -- at least by his usual standards -- since his return from the injured list in early May.
In the end, though, the Nats earned the sweep and handed the Orioles their sixth straight loss.