WASHINGTON -- Erick Aybar pushed the Braves closer toward the completion of what would have been an improbable ninth-inning rally, and then paid for his aggressive decision to attempt to reach third base with no outs and the Braves facing a one-run deficit in the ninth inning of Saturday's 7-6 loss at Nationals Park.
Instead of rolling over and finding an escape from a humid night that became more miserable when they incurred a six-run deficit after six innings, the Braves showed some fight during a four-run ninth. Aybar keyed the rally when he drilled a two-run double off Mark Melancon, but the veteran shortstop also stopped the momentum when he attempted to stretch his hit into a triple and found himself at the mercy of a replay review.
"From one angle I looked safe, but the umpire said out," Aybar said.
Though there was at least one angle that indicated Aybar's left hand might have touched third before he was tagged by Anthony Rendon, the call stood and Melancon escaped further damage by retiring Freddie Freeman and Matt Kemp.
Aybar had the option to stay at second base with no outs, but instead he went against the old-school thought that a player should never make the first or third out at third base. He drilled his double to the left-center-field gap and thus had the ball in his sights when he turned toward third base.
After the game, Aybar emphatically stood by his decision and said he would do it again if introduced to the same situation.
"[Heck] yeah, for sure, 100 percent," Aybar said. "Those are big boys [Freeman and Kemp] behind me. So, you have to be close. If they [hit a fly ball] and I'm on third base, it's a tie game."
Aybar's reasoning could certainly be questioned by those who would have much rather had a runner at second base and no outs in a one-run game in the ninth. But Braves interim manager Brian Snitker did not seem too perturbed by this decision, which seemed to be in line with the aggressive spirit his last-place team showed at the end of a humid night.