Davey Johnson is not known for being much of a speech man. But before the game on Saturday evening Johnson did just that. After the 3-1 loss to the Pirates on Friday, Johnson was very worried about where the team was at. To get some of his frustration out he took a 40-plus swing batting practice, and when asked about it Johnson said, “ I wanted to see if it was hard to hit a baseball.” In the meeting Johnson basically told his players to relax and let the game come to them. He also made it a point to tell them if they were going to go down on strikes, go down swinging.
This game really didn’t look too great. As Strasburg was still struggling, giving up 4 earned runs., the hitters were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, leaving 11 runners on base. But in the ninth inning the Nationals would rely on manufacturing a run.
In the top of the ninth Zimmerman was hit by a pitch, and then LaRoche followed with a single making it first and second with one out, and Moore at the plate. The Nationals’ have not been a base stealing threat this year and with Zimm and LaRoche on base I don’t think anyone was thinking of the double-steal.
The Nationals coaching staff had a great scouting report on the Pirates pitcher Watson, knowing that he was on average 1.8 seconds to the plate form the stretch. This would be more then enough time for Zimmerman and LaRoche to pull off the double-steal, which set up Moore for the Sac Fly that scored the winning run. After the game Watson was asked about the double-steal and said “I definitely wasn’t expecting those two guys to double-steal off me. That’s what good players do. They catch you sleeping and make you pay for it.”
Wins come from all places, and I have to give this one to the coaching staff. Davey Johnson is 3-0 after giving closed-door meetings. Maybe he should do this more often? But when asked by Jordan Zimmermann if there were to be a meeting the next day before the game Johnson responded with, “You can forget it.”