Catch punctuates Bernadina's big night
Center fielder goes 3-for-5 with two RBIs and run-saving grab
WASHINGTON -- Nationals center fielder Roger Bernadina had arguably the best game of his Major League career in a 6-5 loss to the Marlins on Friday night at Nationals Park.
Bernadina went 3-for 5 with three RBIs and made what many have deemed the best catch of the 2011 season thus far.
The catch occurred in the fifth inning with the score tied at 4. The Marlins had runners on first and second with two outs. Outfielder Mike Stanton, who homered earlier in the game, took a 1-0 pitch from reliever Todd Coffey and hit the ball to deep center field. It looked like Bernadina didn't have a shot to catch the ball, but he made a sensational diving catch to end the inning.
At first, it looked like Bernadina was hurt on the play, for he was slow in getting up, but he got up on his own power and went back into the dugout to a standing ovation from the 19,503 fans who were in attendance.
"If he lets that ball get past him, that's two runs right there," Coffey said. "I'm just sitting there backing up second and I see [Bernadina running]. I see him jump up. I see the ball at the tip of the glove and I said, 'Please God, hold on to it somehow,' and he did, and that was an outstanding catch at that point of the game."
Bernadina doesn't even know how he made the catch. He felt the ball was over his head for a hit.
"I went back. The only thing I could do was dive," he said. "I didn't land well, but after that I was fine."
Bernadina also worked his magic with the bat. In the first inning, he reached base on a leadoff bunt single. Two innings later, Bernadina set up the first run of the game for Washington, singling to center before Ian Desmond's RBI single off Florida right-hander Chris Volstad.
An inning later, Bernadina tied the score at 4 with a two-run double. For the season, Bernadina is hitting .320 with two RBIs. He is hoping his success on offense and defense will keep him in the big leagues for the rest of the season.
"I hope so," he said. "I take it day to day. I'm here right now. I can't worry about tomorrow. I worry about today."
Teammate Ian Desmond believes Bernadina could be a long-term fixture on the Nationals.
"He brings so much energy," Desmond said. "He is such a talented ballplayer. I'm pulling for him more than anyone out there. I think that will not be the last catch that we will see him make.
"He is good at stealing bases, he can bunt. I think this is really the time for him. In the past, he didn't show that he could bunt. He wasn't really running a whole lot. I think that atmosphere that we have going on now, everyone is running. I think he feels comfortable, not so worried about getting caught. I'm excited for him. He definitely deserves it, and hopefully he gets another shot."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.