Ex-Phillie Werth thrives on boos in Nats' win
BOX SCORE | WILD-CARD STANDINGS
At least for one night and maybe just one season, Jayson Werth got the last laugh. When the Phillies are sitting at home watching the playoffs on TV, Werth will be there at the top of the Nationals' lineup trying to set the table for the big hitters behind him.
At least that’s the way it was on Wednesday night, when Werth had his fingerprints all over the Nationals’ 8-4 victory over the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park (see Instant Replay)
By beating the Phillies, Werth pushed his former team that much closer to mathematical elimination. That’s because with seven games left in the regular season, the Phillies remain 5½ games behind the Cardinals for the second wild-card spot in the National League.
In other words, the Phillies (78-77) can be X’d out as early as Thursday night.
And certainly, Werth takes a little bit of pride in how he pushed the Phillies to the brink on Wednesday. As the Nats’ leadoff man, Werth opened the game with a five-pitch walk against Kyle Kendrick. One pitch later, Bryce Harper ripped a low-and-away pitch over the fence in left-center for his 20th homer of the season.
Werth also capped off a three-run rally in the ninth with a two-run single. The hit came after a bit of an incident where it appeared as if the Nats’ rightfielder faked tossing a foul ball into the crowd to a group of kids before tossing it aside into the dugout.
Won’t someone please think of the children?
“Earlier in the game I flipped a ball into the seats to a fan and it flipped off her hand and landed on someone else’s lap. Then a guy reached over -- a Phillies fan -- and grabbed the ball off her lap and threw it back onto the field,” Werth explained.
“In the ninth I was going to flip the ball to a group of kids and behind them was all these unruly, middle-aged men who to me appeared to be snarling. It’s the ninth, so who knows. I got the sense that maybe they were intoxicated. I was going to flip it to the kids and then thought maybe not because of the group behind the little innocent children there, remembering what happened earlier in right field.”
In that case it seems as if Werth took an altruistic action, though it didn’t seem that way in the moment. It also didn’t make the Philly fans feel much better when Werth singled home two runs or when he dashed around the bags to score on Harper’s triple.
“They don’t know what they’re missing,” Harper said about the Philadelphia fans in regard to Werth.
Actually, maybe they do and perhaps they just aren’t pleased with how it worked out. After a disappointing first season in Washington, Werth has been solid in 2012. Since returning from a broken wrist, Werth is batting .316 with a .400 on-base percentage. Yes, his power has waned, but the Nats’ leadoff hitter works deep counts and gets on base.
In five plate appearances on Wednesday, Werth saw 25 pitches and this season he’s seen 4.4 pitches per appearance. That’s almost as good as the patience he showed while batting in the Phillies’ lineup.
Needless to say, the Philly fans booed Werth mercifully when he stepped up to the plate in the ninth after the incident with the foul ball and the fans cheered obnoxiously when Justin De Fratus’ second pitch brushed by the whiskers of his beard.
But you know what? It’s all OK with Werth. He says he actually understands what being a fan in Philadelphia means.
“I’ve played a lot of games here and I’m fairly aware of how the fans can be and the way they do things around here,” Werth explained. “I’m not the first guy to get booed nor will I be the last. It’s just part of the game that makes for exciting baseball. These people are passionate.
“I’ve heard a lot here. Someone said today that when Roy [Halladay] got chased the other day that he got booed off the field. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but it’s not surprising. That’s just the way it is -- it is what it is. It’s really just part of playing in Philadelphia and it’s a part of what makes it great.
“I’ve had a lot of fun here and I had a lot of good times. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
Meanwhile, Werth went 2 for 4 with a walk, a pair of runs and two RBIs in the game and helped knock out Kendrick after just two innings. The Nats ripped three homers off Kendrick in the first 22 pitches of the game.
After a stretch of well-pitched games in which Kendrick seemingly carved out a spot in the Phillies’ future rotation, he had a big clunker against the Nats.
“One of the biggest things about his pitching, it gets back to consistency,” manager Charlie Manuel said.
There really hasn’t been much middle ground with Kendrick this season. Typically he either pitches well or very poorly and it’s evident in the stats. In his 10 wins, Kendrick has a 1.32 ERA with 12 walks and three homers allowed. But in his 12 losses, the veteran righty has a 7.74 ERA with 14 homers and 21 walks allowed.
Not surprisingly, Kendrick heard a lot of the same boos as he walked off the mound that Werth heard all night. But then again, that’s to be expected, Werth said.
“I remember playing here when J.D. Drew came through and I saw how it was for those guys and they weren’t on a team that won the World Series,” Werth said.
“You can never take away what I accomplished here and what those teams did. The time I spent in this town and the endless free meals I got from fans and Philadelphians -- it’s just part of it. It’s not upsetting. I’m perfectly fine with it.”
Besides, they say a player has to be pretty good to get booed in Philadelphia.E-mail John Finger at firstname.lastname@example.org