- ISIL creates all-female brigade to terrorize women into following Sharia law
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Obama to Latin leaders: Help with border
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
Matt Stairs’ walk-off single gives Davey Johnson first Nationals win
Question of the Day
“It’s great being home,” he said. “I can recall being here and Frank Howard hitting it over every wall out there. He hit Dave McNally like he owned him, almost killed Brooks Robinson one time if he [hadn’t gotten] his glove up for a line drive. I had a lot of fun memories coming here.”
Johnson will certainly add Friday’s District debut to the list.
The 68-year-old skipper made a few key decisions in the game’s final innings to squeak out a 2-1 win. Pinch-hitter Matt Stairs came through with a walk-off single that bounced off the right-centerfield wall, bringing pinch-runner Alex Cora home.
“First of all, happy Canada Day,” Stairs, the Canadian native, joked after the win. “I came in today and we did a lot of work on some stuff. I stepped into the batter’s box and took a terrible swing on the first swing and made an adjustment on the second one.”
Before the game, Johnson mentioned Stairs specifically and said that they needed his bat late in games. Stairs also said that Johnson pulled him aside before the game and spoke to him about taking a “less is more” approach. The left-handed hitter was batting .132 entering Friday night’s game.
“I did nothing today,” Stairs explained. “After batting practice, I didn’t swing, I didn’t go in the cage and work on things; I just kept it easy, nice and relaxed. I don’t even think I took a swing on deck to tell you the truth.”
For Johnson, the result solidifies his philosophy as a manager: show confidence in your players, and watch that confidence spread.
“If you show confidence in them, they start having more confidence,” the skipper said of his roster. “I think he [Stairs] can hit falling out of bed, but that’s the kind of situation that turns him on. One out, a runner on third — he’s the guy I’d like up there. I don’t care if he’s hitting .080.”
Michael Morse initially set up the game-winning hit with a leadoff single to start the bottom of the ninth. After advancing to second on a wild pitch, the Pirates decided to walk Danny Espinosa and bring up Wilson Ramos. Johnson made another key change at this point, inserting Cora into the game as a pinch-runner for Morse.
But as Ramos slapped a long fly ball to right, Cora tagged at second and advanced to third with only one out. Cora’s base running helped ease Stairs, who knew that even a well-hit sacrifice fly would win the game.
Lost among the ninth-inning drama was Tom Gorzelanny’s terrific start. He surrendered six hits over seven innings and struck out eight, including four with runners in scoring position. The southpaw left the game without letting in an earned run for the first time since May 2.
“He won the game for us [by] giving us that quality start,” Johnson said.
Despite superb pitching from both sides, at the end of the day, Johnson’s ninth-inning tactics were the difference.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
- Rahm Emanuel: Send illegal immigrant shelter kids to Chicago
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- DCCC raising money on suggestion Obama impeachment is 'imminent'
- U.S. evacuates embassy in Libya amid violent clashes between militias
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- CANNON: With Russia, different airline crash, same results
- 3 rockets hit Israel as Hamas rejects Gaza truce
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq