During the seventh inning of a 4-1 loss to the Phillies on Sunday, Washington’s Adam LaRoche hit a ball to right field that looked like it had a chance to leave the ballpark. Jayson Werth, who was standing on second base, thought it was a homer so he began jogging to third. LaRoche thought the same and was also jogging around the bases. The ball remained in play and as a result of the mental miscues Werth had to stop at second and LaRoche was thrown out between second and third. Had they been running hard, the Phillies’ lead could have been cut to 4-2 with nobody out and a man on second.
The end result was the Nationals fourth straight loss. Washington currently has the best record in baseball and is in tremendous position to reach the postseason, but losing has a way of making life difficult around the clubhouse. According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, Nationals manager Davey Johnson and GM Mike Rizzo had it out after the loss.
After the final pitch, Johnson and General Manager Mike Rizzo conversed behind the closed door of Johnson’s office for nearly 20 minutes, Johnson’s shouts audible from the hallway outside.
The yelling appeared to be the release of frustration after a dispiriting loss, not the start of a rift. Although it was not clear what the argument centered on, Johnson could be heard shouting, “You come down and manage the team.”
When asked about the argument, Johnson simply told reporters he had a discussion with his boss. These things happen all the time — especially after a frustrating series. However, the Nationals are going to have enough to worry about in dealing with the Stephen Strasburg situation going forward. If they want to succeed in the postseason, mental errors like the ones we saw on Sunday can’t become a habit.
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