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Davey Johnson fiddles as D.C. burns

Oct 13, 2012, 12:43 AM EDT

Davey Johnson AP

No major league team had ever blown more than a four-run lead to lose an elimination game. No team until the Nationals managed to let a six-run lead slip away in a 9-7 loss to the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLDS.

One imagines Davey Johnson will put much of the blame for Friday’s defeat on his own shoulders. He certainly should. The baffling call to put Edwin Jackson into the game in the seventh was a decision that could have worked out even worse than it did (Jackson allowed one run, narrowing the lead to 6-4).

That inning should have gone to Ryan Mattheus or Christian Garcia. Those two aren’t household names and they aren’t sure things themselves, but they’re genuine relievers who have experienced success in the role this year. Jackson is a starter who was pitching on one day of rest.

The ninth was the real disaster, though, and one wonders how much differently that would have gone if the Nationals hadn’t put in Drew Storen to get some work in Wednesday’s 8-0 loss. Storen went on to throw another inning Thursday, so by using him again Friday, the Nationals were asking him to pitch a full inning three days in a row for the first time this year. He had pitched three days in a row twice previously since elbow surgery, but they were in a setup role and he wasn’t working full innings (he pitched two innings in three days the first time and 1 2/3 innings in three days the second time).

It was obvious Storen wasn’t at his best tonight. He still could have gotten out with the save if David Freese had been called out on a checked-swing or if Ian Desmond had handled Daniel Descalso‘s game-tying single.

But Johnson left him in, even though he was struggling to get his slider down, making him a one-trick pony. Had the Nats sent the game to the bottom of the ninth at 7-7, they still stood a very good chance of winning with the Cardinals’ bench completely exhausted and most of the team’s best relievers having already worked. Instead, Johnson let Storen lose the game, a mistake he’s likely to spent the whole winter regretting.

  1. nofunleague - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    Every team has a last game of the season. Would it have been any better if they had been swept? Maybe if they had won one more of the first three games this fifth and final game wouldn’t have been necessary. Nit pic, second guess, whatever the Nats and the Orioles but had better than expected seasons. Move on to football, or cuss at the hockey strike. Me, I srtill have to go to work on Monday. Peace.

  2. smorrow66 - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:46 AM

    The parallels to G6 of the WS were terrible to watch (as a Ranger fan), but the one parallel I could definitely point to was all the walks the Nats issued.

    Molina is a bad hitter, but not a stupid one. Make him hit his way on base.

    This is no different than the prevent defense in football. Instead of playing to finish, you play not the blow it, but end up doing exactly that.

    • johnlevesque - Oct 13, 2012 at 8:00 PM

      Seriously? Give me eight more “bad hitters” like Molina (.315 batting average, .874 OPS, 76 RBI), and I’ll take my chances.

  3. icanspeel - Oct 13, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    There were lots of mistakes, but 1 late one I saw was…

    After the Cardinals tied it and Kozma was up there with first base open and the pitchers spot up next I thought they should have walked Kozma. Even if the next hitter got a hit, they most likely would have pinch hit for their closer and if they left Motte in the Nationals may have escaped the 9th tied.

  4. hail88 - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    Sad to see the Moranatude of the Philly fans !

    • tfoz5150 - Oct 13, 2012 at 3:12 PM

      i could care less that your team choked. maybe if you had Strasburg your team would have been alright. plus I actually still like Jason Werth.

  5. lgwelsh1 - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Davey did a phenomenal job this year, the players play the games. It just didn’t work out this year. The Nationals are loaded up for years, they will take this loss and learn from it.

  6. franklinandbashandflorio - Oct 13, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    Gnats are a joke.

  7. kramden17 - Oct 13, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    As a lifelong phillies fan, I’ve been laughing and smiling since that last out. I can only remember how Davey Johnson thought it was hilarious when the phillies held a fire sale at the end of July. Amazing how the baseball gods have memories. Well Davey, after last night’s loss, still laughing? Using storen every game? Closers challenge hitters. That 9 th inning fiasco was a comedy show. Trying to put away the series with his 2 nd and 3 rd pitches? How about some guts. Team takes after the coach. Hey Davey…going to a comedy club tonite? LMAO

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