Aug 15, 2013, 5:03 AM EST
|USA Today Sports Images|
The Nationals went out of their way to acquire Denard Span over the winter, first and foremost, because they believed he would fill a much-needed void atop their lineup.
In that regard, Span’s first season in Washington has been a disappointment. He hasn’t reached base enough for a leadoff hitter, and when he has reached, he hasn’t run the bases as well as hoped.
Which isn’t to suggest Span hasn’t been valuable to the Nationals in 2013, especially in the field. Teammates and fans alike have marveled all year at the center fielder’s ability to track down balls few others would even approach. And Wednesday night, everyone in attendance at Nationals Park saw firsthand how one of baseball’s best defensive outfielders can literally win a game with his glove.
With one mad dash from his position shaded toward right-center field to a point just shy of the warning track in left-center, Span robbed Hunter Pence of a double that would have completed a ninth-inning rally by the Giants against Rafael Soriano. Instead, by diving to snag Pence’s line drive and holding the ball ever-so-carefully in his glove, Span recorded the final out of a wild, 6-5 Nationals victory and afforded 30,657 fans and a dugout full of anxious teammates the opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief and then offer a roar of approval.
“Whew,” manager Davey Johnson said. “Heck of a play.”
“Unbelievable,” shortstop Ian Desmond added. “He’s been amazing all year long. Him being in the American League, we never really got to see him that much. But, best center fielder I’ve ever seen.”
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