Missed opportunity overshadows big day for Hairston

By Tom Schad | Associate Reporter

Since he was acquired from the Cubs a little less than a month ago, Scott Hairston has searched for opportunities to help the struggling Nationals. He got his chance with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning on Monday and couldn’t come through, a sour end to what was otherwise his best day in a Nationals uniform.

Hairston took a ball before Braves reliever Jordan Walden threw a wild pitch, allowing Anthony Rendon to advance from second to third. Hairston only needed a sacrifice fly to tie the game. Instead, he swung at a low 2-0 fastball and popped it straight up and back toward the screen. Catcher Brian McCann made a basket catch against the backstop for the out, and Chad Tracy flew out to left field in the next at-bat to end the game.

“It’s always tough,” Hairston said. “I think when you’re in that position to help the team win and you don’t do it, it’s somewhat of a disappointment and we all feel the same way. You have to seize the opportunity.”

Hairston collected as many hits in his first three at-bats on Monday (two) as he had in his first 19 plate appearances with the Nationals. He doubled down the left-field line in the second inning, walked in the fifth and doubled again in the seventh. But he also knows that he’s more likely to be remembered for the one hit he didn’t get than the ones he did.

“It hurts,” he said, “but once you leave the ballpark today, we’re just gonna have to prepare for tomorrow.”

The play was particularly disappointing considering the fact that Walden, not closer Craig Kimbrel, was in the game at the time. Kimbrel got the night off after pitching in three straight games.

“Is Kimbrel a better pitcher? Yes he is. But Walden, he’s good too,” Hairston said. “I just think at this level, whoever gets put in that situation is there to do the job. There’s no letdown no matter who’s on the mound. But hey, I had a chance to do my job tonight with one out and I didn’t do it. It’s just how it goes sometimes. Hopefully the next time I’m in that situation, I’ll be able to get the job done.”

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