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Even managers are capable of rookie mistakes

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I realize that the voting for the post-season awards doesn't include playoffs. For Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams, that's a good thing, because he would've lost votes for a boneheaded decision in game 2 of the NLDS vs. San Francisco on Saturday night.

Let me refresh the scenario. Top 9, 2 out. Jordan Zimmermann, six days removed from a regular season-ending no-hitter vs. Miami, is working on another gem, a three hit shutout, but walked Giants rookie Joe Panik to put the tying run on base with Buster Posey coming up. Williams decides to pull Zimmermann, after just 100 pitches in 8 2/3 innings, in favor of default closer Drew Storen. Storen promptly blows the save, as he gives up a hit to Posey and a game-tying double to Pablo Sandoval.

One inning later, Williams is gone, ejected by umpire Vic Carapazzo after the arbiter had first run Asdrubal Cabrera from the game for arguing two questionable strike calls. The Giants won in 18, 2-1, but would things have been different had Zimmermann been allowed to finish the game? I guess we'll never know the answer, but instead of going to San Francisco with the series tied, 1-1, Washington now must avoid elimination on Monday, which would spoil any hopes for a Beltway Series with the Baltimore Orioles, assuming, of course, that the Orioles would hold up their end of the bargain in the American League.

Pardon the obvious pun, but it's clear that Williams was having a Panik attack after the walk, and treated the sitch like it was a regular season game, reflexively going to the pen. Granted, Giants manager Bruce Bochy had blinked first, pulling his starter, Tim Hudson, after 7 1/3 innings, which amazingly drew boos from the Nationals' partisans. They were being treated, along with the television audience, to an old school baseball clinic. However, as it turned out, Bochy had a stronger bullpen, which kept the Nats off the board as Saturday turned into Sunday.

Williams has my vote as NL Manager of the Year, but I'd not be surprised if he becomes the 2nd manager to win that award, then get fired, following Joe Girardi, who won the honor with the Marlins in 2007, then was let go and signed with the Yankees. If Washington can't recover from Saturday's debacle, GM Mike Rizzo may be forced to do something he'd rather not, and make another managerial change sooner than he and the fan base would like.


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