Defensive woes continue for Ian Desmond

By Andrew Simon

WASHINGTON — For the second time in five nights, Ian Desmond stood in front of his locker and answered questions about his faltering defense following Monday night’s 4-2 loss to the Angels.

Desmond had spoken forcefully about his struggles after making two errors on Thursday against the Cardinals

“I’m going to keep on grinding,” he said at the time. “I was out there hoping that they would keep on hitting me ground balls. That’s all you can do, just go out and keep on playing. As long as my name’s in the lineup, I’m going to go out there and play as hard as I can. It’s not a lack of effort. It’s just, I’ve got to execute. And I will.”

Desmond appeared much more subdued on Monday after racking up his Major League-leading eighth and ninth errors of the season during a disastrous eighth inning that saw the Angels score four runs to rally from a 1-0 deficit.

“Not making the plays,” said Desmond, who again sat waiting at his locker for reporters to arrive. “I wish I had an answer.”

Leading off the eighth against Tyler Clippard, Albert Pujols bounced a ground ball up the middle. Desmond ranged to his left, reached out and had the ball glance off his glove. He scrambled to pick it up, but it was too late to attempt a throw.

It wasn’t a routine play but one Desmond certainly expects himself to make.

“I’m a big league shortstop,” he said. “Not that tough.”

By the time Desmond made his second miscue of the inning, the damage was done. Erick Aybar tied the game with an RBI single, and Raul Ibanez smacked a three-run double, with Desmond throwing wildly to home to allow Ibanez to take third.

It was Desmond’s third two-error game of the season, with all nine of the mistakes coming in the past 12 games — five fielding, four throwing. Going into Monday, no other Major League player had more than five total, and five entire teams had fewer than nine.

As Desmond pointed out on Thursday, he’s been through and come out of this sort of stretch before. Just last year, he committed seven errors by April 21, then didn’t make his next one until June 28, finishing with 20 and as a Gold Glove finalist for the second straight season.

The Nationals, who lead the Majors in errors as a club, will have to hope Desmond can reverse course again. He believes he can.

“You use everything in the past to make yourself better,” he said. “This is going to be one of those circumstances, and I’ve just got to weather the storm.”

Follow Andrew Simon @AndrewSimonMLB.

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