The Washington Nationals were outscored 21-4 over their three-game set with the Oakland A's in the O.co Coliseum, but the 9-1 drubbing on Sunday afternoon in the series finale with the Athletics might have been the most frustrating of the Nats' three losses. They fell behind 3-0 in the bottom of the first when A's catcher (and former Nationals' draft pick) Derek Norris hit a three-run home run to left field off Nats' lefty Gio Gonzalez on a center-cut 3-0 fastball.
When Norris hit a second 3-0 pitch out to left field in the second inning of the game, after some struggles in the infield which included a missed pop at home plate, Gonzalez and an unnamed teammate got into a shouting match in the dugout that was captured on camera.
Asked about the shouting incident after the loss, Williams declined to offer any specifics.
"Sometimes within the confines of a team," Williams said, "they're all competing out there. It's just competition and we're not going to go any further than that with it. That's the team's business and for nobody else."
As for the onfield struggles against the A's, the Nats' first-year skipper summed up Sunday's loss succinctly.
"We got manhandled today," he said. "Last night we had a chance to win one and that didn't happen, so we've got three more tough games on this road trip, so we have to regroup and play well, starting tomorrow."
Gonzalez threw 88 pitches in just 4 1/3 IP on Sunday, giving up nine hits, three walks and seven earned runs while struggling with his command and falling behind in the count when he was on the mound.
"It just seemed like he was 2-0 on everybody," Williams told reporters afterwards. "Just behind in the count. Norris hit a couple of late, 3-0 fastballs out of the ballpark. That happens. But he fell behind a lot today and had to throw the ball over the plate."
It was Gonzalez's first start in Oakland since the A's traded him to Washington in December of 2011, but his manager didn't think the emotion involved with returning to his first major league home affected the left-hander.
"I don't think so. He just missed," Williams explained. "He didn't have a breaking ball early. Missed with his fastball and they made him pay for it, so that's kind of the story of today."
Asked if Gonzalez was unhappy to be lifted when he was, Williams said that it was time for pitcher's outing to end.
"He's approaching 100 pitches and we've got to get him out of there at that point. I could leave him in there, but that does nobody any good, including Gio. So, I want him ready for his next start too."
As for the misplays in the infield, which included catcher Jose Lobaton and Anthony Rendon letting a pop above the plate by A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes drop and bounce foul before Cespedes walked and Norris hit his second three-run blast, Williams said that while it was a play that should have been made for what would have been the third out of the inning, it was hardly the only problem for the Nationals.
"I played here a long time in this area and this is the highest sky and toughest sky there is in all of baseball," Williams said. "So, yeah, could it have been a catch, potentially, but from Gio's perspective, he didn't throw enough strikes.
"And from our offensive perspective, we didn't get enough hits, and that's the bottom line of the game, so regardless of [a] play or a ball falling in or not, that's not my concern. My concern is us tomorrow and going on from there."