Tim Hudson may have been only partially correct when he suggested that the Washington Nationals lacked the determination of his team, the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants pitcher drew the ire of Washington fans before Saturday’s 18-inning epic, wondering aloud whether the Nationals had as much guts and grit as the Giants. To be fair to Washington, their performances in two narrow post-season losses would seem to show they do not lack fight.
What is clear is that their biggest shortcoming is actually between their ears.
Going into the post-season, there was no question about Washington’s talent. Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and others dot a roster that is the envy of many. It is no accident that the Nationals have had the best record in the National League two of the past three years.
More questions linger over first-year manager Matt Williams. The first of his two major missteps on Saturday was to pull starting pitcher Zimmermann, who had retired 20 successive batters before giving up a walk with two outs in the ninth inning. The Nationals’ bullpen proceeded to blow the lead, kicking off nine innings of unnecessary baseball.
Williams’s bigger mistake was bumping umpire Vic Carapazza, joining second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera in being ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the 10th. A team on the verge of a second post-season failure in three years cannot afford that kind of indiscipline, least of all from a manager.
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