DENVER -- Cesar Hernandez had his head down Sunday afternoon when he slid into second base, hoping he could break up a double play in the fourth inning of a 4-1 loss to the Rockies.
He was protecting his face, Hernandez said, from the throw he expected second baseman Garrett Hampson to make to first after he tagged Hernandez out. But Hampson dropped the exchange at second base before he could throw to first. Hernandez was safe. He just didn’t know it.
“I just assumed I was out,” said Hernandez.
Hernandez, caught with his head down, began walking back to the dugout as he didn’t see umpire Joe West wave him safe after Hampson dropped the ball. Hernandez soon realized what had happened, but it was too late. The Rockies caught him in a rundown and tagged him for the second out of the inning.
“It is ultimately my fault,” Hernandez said. “I know better. I should have stayed on the base until I was 100 percent sure if I was out or safe.”
It was a crucial mistake, costing the Phillies the chance to score two runs and change the course of the game. Maikel Franco doubled to right field, which would have scored Hernandez from second. Roman Quinn then hit a fly ball to center, which may have been deep enough for Rhys Hoskins to tag up from third base if there was just one out.
“It was a big play. It’s a play that can’t happen,” Gabe Kapler said.
Hernandez may not have left the bag had West verbally called him safe after Hampson dropped the ball instead of just spreading his arms.
“Of course that always helps. If you hear the umpire say, 'safe' or 'out,' it gives you a better idea,” Hernandez said. “You don't have to look at him. But, again, it's not really his fault. It's mine.”
Scott Kingery’s MRI on Saturday afternoon revealed a mild strain of his right hamstring, which Kapler said the Phillies were expecting to see when they read the results of the test. Kingery will be on the injured list until at least April 30. The Phillies do not have a timetable for his return, but the injury does not seem to be severe enough to keep him out for an extended period of time.
Bryce Harper’s home run in the seventh inning of Saturday night’s 8-5 win was his fourth of the season in the seventh inning or later, which is the third-highest total in the National League. It was also his second of the year against lefthanded pitchers. He has a .833 OPS this year against lefties.
“We know that every team is going to bring in their toughest left-hander to face Bryce in the biggest moments,” Kapler said. “If he's swinging the bat well against those guys, what do you do if you're the opposition? You leave the righty in? That's not a good recipe for success.”