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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. roberson19 - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:49 AM

    The worst decision of all Davey made was pitching to Kozma with first base open and Motte on deck. Cards options were Cruz or letting Motte hit for himself there. Game should still be tied.

    • hardballtalkusername - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:40 AM

      Yeah I mentioned that in the previous thread. I couldn’t believe it. Would have forced Motte out for the ninth even if the PH came through. Davey was just awful in this game.

      • schlom - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:59 AM

        I’m not sure you would want to load the bases for a pitcher who would have then walked 3 of the last 4 batters.

        And didn’t Descalso run on the 0-2 pitch? That means you would walk a hitter when you had the count at 1-2. That doesn’t seem like a good idea.

  2. mgflolox - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:49 AM

    Monday quarterbacking at its worst. The Cards just came up big in the clutch. Sometimes it just happens.

    • ultimatecardinalwarrior - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:00 AM

      I agree. There’s really no argument for taking out your best reliever in an incredibly high leverage situation, regardless of rest.

    • recoveringcubsfan - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:33 AM

      I think it’s sad that you believe that “clutch” is a better piece of evidence for an argument than things we call “facts.” But hey, the Cardinals finished 5th in the NL and didn’t deserve to be here and then they got some crazy good calls at the plate tonight. But they must actually be “clutch” and that was the difference. Glad you explained that.

      • mgflolox - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:05 AM

        I’m not saying that the Cards are necessarily a better “clutch” team than the Nats, I’m just saying that merely it happened tonight. They had good at bats when it mattered late in the game. That’s a fact. It’s what happened tonight.

      • ghostofjimlindeman - Oct 13, 2012 at 8:48 AM

        Whaaaa!! You got beat quit crying ya baby. Epic choke job accept it.,

      • daveloewe - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:14 AM

        They may have finished “5th in the NL” but they also had the second best run differential in the NL. I can argue that they were unlucky in the regular season.

    • banggbiskit - Oct 13, 2012 at 7:42 AM

      I dont buy the ‘clutch’ stuff at all. They had one foot in the grave early in this game, teams dont often come back from 6 run deficits on the road in an elimination game. Was it considered clutch that they were down 6-0? They didnt look too clutch at that point. Also, when they were down to their last strike, there was a check swing that looked incredibly borderline and could have gone either way and the ump said “no swing”. The game, for a brief moment, was in the ump’s hands and not in the hands of the ‘clutch’ team.

      • ghostofjimlindeman - Oct 13, 2012 at 8:51 AM

        Uh like Joyce and his joke of a strike zone on Thursday didn’t save your asses? You got beat by the varsity team, you’re still the jv squad quit bitching

  3. illadelphiasphinest - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:53 AM

    Natitude!!!! Lol. Idiots

    • recoveringcubsfan - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:33 AM

      Only a loser gets on the internet to taunt the fans of a losing team.

    • captn58crunch - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:43 AM

      What an absolute low-life you are to taunt Nats fans here. You should be banned for life from posting.

      • tfoz5150 - Oct 13, 2012 at 3:16 PM

        yeah it aint just philly fans that pull that s$&t. you should see all those classy nj or pitt fans over over on hockey talk. everbodys fanbase has their share of idiots

    • kevinleaptrot - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:00 AM

      illadelphiasphinest, isn’t it about time for you stepfather to come down to the basement and touch you inappropriately again?

      • harrows76 - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:09 PM

        yeah, don’t taunt fans after there team loses but it’s fine to make jokes about sexual abuse. Good job loser.

    • ghostofjimlindeman - Oct 13, 2012 at 8:52 AM

      That was a clown choke job bro..

  4. butchhuskey - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:55 AM

    I don’t see how anyone can blame the series loss on not having Strasburg – sure he would have helped but if the Nats had just held on to this lead it wouldn’t have mattered.

    • indaburg - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:59 AM

      Don’t you think having Stras available to do a couple of innings of relief could have helped the Nats hold on to said lead?

      • ezthinking - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:31 AM

        No.

      • recoveringcubsfan - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:35 AM

        Nope. Not pitching the epically-crappy Edwin Jackson AT ALL against his old team, plus a decent call at home plate tonight and this argument over Strasburg would be over, because the Nats would be in the NLCS. Move on. This topic is tired.

      • indaburg - Oct 13, 2012 at 5:51 AM

        I have nothing to move on from, my dear. I don’t really care for either of these two teams, but as a student of the game, I think it’s a valid question, one you had better get accustomed to hearing as the Nationals dissect their post-season and glean some lessons learned from a brutal loss. You likely haven’t heard the last of it.

  5. orakpownd - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:58 AM

    Lol. Philly. In general.

  6. 78mu - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:58 AM

    This is the biggest problem with managers and their 9th inning closer. When the closer is having problems they don’t want to yank him so they can always say they went with their best option. Any logic that makes sense in any other inning goes right out the door. They are so afraid of being second guessed they just sit there and watch the closer let the game slip away.

  7. Old Gator - Oct 13, 2012 at 12:59 AM

    Storen couldn’t throw strikes. It had less to do with overwork, I think, than nerves. He just plain choked. He walked the tying runs, then melted down like an ice cream cone in Death Valley in July. Very painful to watch.

    Well, with the As, Gloryholes and Gnats all out of it, there are no teams left in the ring that interest me very much, for or against. So it goes. Tigers – Cardinals in the Series. I’ll pretty much snooze through the LCS with occasional moments of yard work.

    • mgflolox - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:07 AM

      I hate to say that someone choked, but unfortunately, I have to agree. Storen frankly just didn’t trust his stuff and threw too many pitches outside the strike zone instead of just going after the hitters.

    • captn58crunch - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:48 AM

      Nobody left to make the MLB playoffs worth watching. Baseball is over for me this year. These best of five series are absurd; you quite often do not have the best team prevail as with a best of seven series.

      • meteor32 - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:30 AM

        Smaller sample sizes give less accurate results? Surely, you jest, sir.

  8. dcfan4life - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:03 AM

    Every point you made i was literally questioning when they happened. I refuse to blame Davey though but i am miffed at his decision making in this series. He was a key reason everything gelled to this point so when it doesn’t work out i wont blame him.

  9. brianjoates - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:05 AM

    Such ashame, the Nats and Orioles were good story lines this post season. Great another post season with the All Star team and their 200 million dollar payroll from NY. They are benching the highest paid player in the game, what a joke for baseball.

    The Nats need to bring back Davey for at least another run at it next season. He is good for this team.

  10. Marty - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:07 AM

    Man, wouldn’t want to be Nats fan right now. Getting sticked in the 9th at home in the clinching game is the worst way to go.

  11. xmatt0926x - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:08 AM

    Does anyone else fear for Davey Johnson’s safety with that thug Rizzo roaming the streets?

  12. rgledz - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:30 AM

    Comes down to the last game……good thing they shut down Strasburg! Brilliant assumption that you’ll be able to get there again. Good luck with that Expos. Ha!!

  13. brewcrewfan54 - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:34 AM

    But Davey is a genius. Sports Illustrated told me so last week.

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Oct 13, 2012 at 8:34 AM

      And Matthew told you earlier this week

      http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/10/07/mike-matheny-gets-outmanaged-as-cards-lose-game-1/

      • 18thstreet - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:14 PM

        Matheny did get outmanaged in Game One. No one said this was a permanent condition.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Oct 13, 2012 at 3:11 PM

        I thought at the time it was a bit much to say anyone under or over managed anyone else. Cards had bases loaded nobody out and it took two picthes to get out of the inning – how exactly did Davey make that happen? Did Matheny tell Craig and Molina to go up and hack no matter what?
        Game 1 was all on the players, imo

  14. mogogo1 - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:36 AM

    “…the Nationals were asking him to pitch a full inning three days in a row for the first time this year.”

    Talk about clutching at straws… It’s the stinkin’ playoffs, yet, it’s controversial to ask a pitcher to provide a single inning of work a few days in-a-row? And it gets even better when Pouliot goes into the justification of how, “yeah, he’d pitched three days straight before, but it was slightly different” If that’s the best criticism he can offer, it’s pretty sad.

    • DelawarePhilliesFan - Oct 13, 2012 at 8:40 AM

      How is that clutching at straws? Storen didn’t look very sharp, Matthew is offering his thoughts on why. What is your theory?

  15. illadelphiasphinest - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:40 AM

    Its Teddy’s fault for winning. Blame it on him. Or their GM for shutting down Strausberg. Or blame it on their manager for being an idiot. Or blame it on their bullpen. Or blame it on their hitters for getting blown out n unable to score runs. Or blame it on Obama. There sure is a lot of blame to go around in DC. Natitude!!! Can ya feel it???

    • Old Gator - Oct 13, 2012 at 8:33 AM

      No, but I can feel the emptiness of the stadium in Feelie where nothing has been going on since October third.

  16. kevinleaptrot - Oct 13, 2012 at 1:58 AM

    Like the song says, “There’s a first time for everything.” Just a devastating, soul crushing loss for the Nats. What the hell is up with the Cards, getting down to their last strike before turning it on and winning their series? You just can’t kill them! They’re like zombies or something. Just give them the damn WS trophy and let’s get on with next season already. Next round, I predict that the Cards beat the Giants in 7 after getting down to their last strike in games 5, 6 and 7. Like the Nat’s chances going forward though. Strong young team. And Washington was a baseball town tonight. Tomorrow we’ll go back to RGIII and the Deadskins, but tonight, we were cheering when should have been cheering, standing up for significant portions of the game and making a lot of noise. Very few left the park before the final out. Proud of how Nats fans represented themselves tonight, all 45,966 of them. Largest crowd in Nats history.

    • natslady - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:59 AM

      Yes, it was something. No trash on the field, no, after the shock set in, then the fans stood up and applauded. They–we–saluted our boys, our boys who played their hearts out. Our team was something special this year. It was a tough loss, because you could taste victory–especially after Suzuki’s single–victory was so close the guy sitting next to me asked what time is the game on Sunday. Our boys done good and the future is very bright.

    • tommyshih - Oct 13, 2012 at 4:31 AM

      Actually the TBS announcers spent a good portion of the game mocking the Nats fans for not knowing when to boo and generally not being a very knowledgeable crowd. And twitter was even less kind.

    • indaburg - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:01 AM

      Zombies = Cardinals? It all makes sense now.

      The forecast is still sunny for Nats. Best of luck next year.

  17. 49ersgiants4life - Oct 13, 2012 at 2:25 AM

    I am going to blame the Straghsburg shutdown you pitch your ace to win games Verlander 4 hit the A’s, CC 4 hit the Orioles even Matt Cain shut down the Reds for a while. You play whoever gives your team the best chance to win.

  18. succulentnipples - Oct 13, 2012 at 7:04 AM

    The best possible ending for the nationals. Now back to third place in the nl east with you clowns.

  19. maddogg911 - Oct 13, 2012 at 7:25 AM

    Let’s see the tigers send out their ace and he throws a complete game win, the Yankees do the same and cc also throws a complete game, and the nationals…. Oh yeah stras is out resting…., this is the worst decision ever. Nats should have seize this opportunity because they probably will not see it again!!! Idiots!!!!!

  20. mungman69 - Oct 13, 2012 at 7:29 AM

    I believe that the Nats will be good for years to come. They are deep and they are young BUT they sure blew this one. They are in shock in D.C. My friends, you gotta play nine.

    • cshearing - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:15 AM

      And your best players.

  21. banggbiskit - Oct 13, 2012 at 7:35 AM

    There were a lot of mistakes, maybe leaving Gonzales in the game at the first sign of trouble. I believe Gonzo gave up 3 runs before he was lifted from the game, this is an elim, all hands on deck.

    I didnt even realize the pitcher was on deck, if this game goes to the 9th at 7-7 the Nats still have a great shot, i agree with whoever said that.

    Some managers manage the game NOT to win, but to take the least critical path to defeat. When i saw Storen barking thru his glove at the Ump, he seemed ‘rattled’ and the pitching coach went out to ‘calm him down’ but it was too late. Storen was too emotional out there, if you’re going to be a great closer, you have to forget the previous pitch, you cant get ‘rattled’ and when the game got tied, he got rattled.

    • Old Gator - Oct 13, 2012 at 8:37 AM

      That’s the series in a nutshell right there. Somebody hit the little switch in Storen’s head and knocked it from “cubes” to “crushed” to “water.” Okay, he’s been tested, and he’s either been broken or annealed. We won’t know which one until his next ninth inning in a playoff game. Sometimes it takes a breakdown like this to harden a guy. I don’t doubt that the Gnats will be back, and then we shall see.

  22. steve851 - Oct 13, 2012 at 7:59 AM

    Doesn’t matter what the Nats decided to do. They were playing the Cardinals.

  23. leerosenthall - Oct 13, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    The Curse of Teddy officially begins.

    • brianjoates - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:07 AM

      Gotta bench the Rushmore presidents and bring in 4 new guys. The Rushmore guys bit is lost now that Teddy has won,only bring them out on special surprise occassions for races. Clinton, JFK, Ron Reagan and Obama should take the field next season.

  24. marteshoes1326 - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    Johnson lost this game, pure and simple. You HAVE to walk Kosma in that situation. I’m friends with a former Met and in the mid-80s when the Cards and the “pond scum” Mets had an intense rivalry (with the Cards winning the National League in 1985 and ’87 while the Mets won in ’86) he said they would sit in the dugout and marvel how Whitey Herzog was always three steps ahead of Johnson and usually ate his lunch.
    Davey was at his worst in Game 5. Sure, the players have to perform but putting Jackson in there and then getting caught and passed in the ninth speaks to Johnson not putting his team in the best situation to succeed.
    And as far as Rizzo and Strasburg: why didn’t they “disable him” for a month, mid-August to mid-September then have him for the playoffs? Makes little to no sense. It’s hard to have a shot at the World Series like they had this year. Unfortunately for Nats fans, they found that out.

  25. rhett16 - Oct 13, 2012 at 9:15 AM

    Rizzo was afraid Strasburg would somehow hurt himself getting on/off the team plane if they had advanced any farther and had to fly to San Fran, so he ordered Johnson to throw the game so Strasburg could go home and rest up for next season. The other 24 guys on the team who have played for years to try and win a championship? Screw ‘em!

    • Old Gator - Oct 13, 2012 at 10:50 AM

      You haven’t got a clue. Go back to ProBowlingTalk.

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