Jim Riggleman was none too pleased with the manner in which the Nationals lost to the Padres tonight. It wasn’t so much the 6-2 final score. This team has lost games by scores far more lopsided than that. But it’s hard to think of a game in which the Nats showed less effort, fire or intensity than they did tonight.
So Washington’s interim manager let his players hear it afterward. Asked during his televised news conference what specifically he said, Riggleman thought for a moment and then replied: “Well, children listen to this. So I can’t tell you what I say to them.”
Riggleman did, however, clean up the language and shed some light on what his message was. Here’s some of what he told us after the game…
“It was just a bad effort. You hate to even try to look for the silver lining too much, but it was particularly bad early. We just played so bad early, it had the feeling of we just weren’t ready to play. That’s on me, and I can’t accept that. The players actually got pretty intense after a while, but the damage was done. We weren’t into it early. I don’t know how you can’t be into it, but we weren’t, and that’s my responsibility to make sure they are into it.”
On Cristian Guzman’s at-bat in the seventh inning (in which Guzman, with the bases loaded and two outs, swung at three straight pitches, missing the last two): “One thing I told the ballclub is, I know how hard it is to hit. If we hit, I’m the happiest guy in the world. If we don’t hit, I know it’s not from a lack of effort. I know it’s not from a lack of intensity. But I don’t even get upset about the not hitting with men on base. I get upset about the other stuff. The not making plays. The not getting signs. The details of the game. We’ve got to take care of the details of the game. The hitting and the pitching, eventually if people don’t hit enough, then Mike Rizzo will get somebody else in here to hit. Those are the big things. You’ve got to hit and pitch, but I can’t help them with their hitting, and I can’t help them with their pitching. So I’ve got to make sure we take care of the little things, the details. And we didn’t take care of the little things today, and that’s what upset me about the ballgame.”
On what prompted him to address team after this game? “I’ve addressed the team a few times. I talk to the team every night after the game. Because that’s where we are. … I let them know about the importance in having pride in the uniform, having pride in the fact that you signed a contract and you’ve got to play it out. We owed it to the people who paid to watch that tonight. We owed them a better effort than that.
“They’ll get on board. They will. There’s really no alternative. We just cannot play that sloppy and have that many errors through this point of the season and say: ‘Well, that’s just baseball. That’s OK. They’re trying.’ That’s not fair to the fans who come out here and buy these tickets.”
For those wondering, the Nats have now committed 94 errors in 96 games this season. The next-worst-fielding club in the majors is Arizona, with 80 errors. Next-worse is Seattle, with 75. The Phillies have committed the fewest in baseball, with 37.