Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams has thought long and hard about his decision to remove Jordan Zimmermann with two outs in the ninth and go to closer Drew Storen, and he stands by it a day later.
Williams had extra innings after his ejection to ponder the move Saturday night, then a cross-country flight.
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He says he would do it again, even if there’s some agony involved given Storen blew the save chance and Washington lost to the San Francisco Giants 2-1 in 18 innings, putting the Nationals in an 0-2 hole in the National League Division Series.
The best-of-five matchup shifts to San Francisco for Game 3 on Monday afternoon as Washington tries to save its season.
"I kicked myself on that. That’s human nature," Williams said Sunday. "You kick yourself any time it doesn’t work. However, you have to put your guys in position to do their jobs and what they do. So that being said, I don’t have a problem with it. It didn’t work out. But we’ve got our best guy who is the closer coming in to pick up the guy that just gave us all he had for eight-and-two-thirds."
"Now, could you say that it was the wrong move? Of course you can. You could say that. Could you say it was the right move? Yes, you could say that, as well. It didn’t work out. That being said, it’s, yeah, I kick myself for bringing Drew in and having him tie the game. Beyond that, we had nine more innings to win it. So that’s how I look at it."
The 96-win Nationals have relied on Storen to finish games since he became the regular closer in September when Williams went to a closer-by-committee system and demoted struggling Rafael Soriano. Storen had 11 saves and a 1.12 ERA in 65 games and 56 1-3 innings, and hadn’t allowed an earned run in 23 appearances since Aug. 5.
Williams pulled Zimmermann after a two-out walk to Joe Panik. At that point, Zimmermann was pitching a three-hitter and had a 1-0 lead.
Buster Posey greeted Storen with a single and Pablo Sandoval followed with an RBI double. It was Storen’s first postseason appearances since he failed to hold a ninth-inning lead against St. Louis in the deciding Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS.
"It’s all good. Another day. It’s nothing new, really. It’s just kind of part of it," Storen said Sunday. "It’s the same stuff we’ve dealt with all year. It’s just a different piece of adversity, and it’s about coming back and playing our game."
"It’s obviously not ideal to be down 2-0, but we haven’t lost hope and we know that we can come back and can do this. It just takes one inning, it takes one little thing. That’s the fun thing about playoff baseball," he said.
Williams understands the questions surrounding his move, considering the Nationals are now playing to save their season on the road rather than looking to take the lead in the division series.
"Yeah, could it have been over if one of those two guys makes an out? Yeah, it would have been over," he said.