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Wire Taps: Nationals in San Francisco; Matt Williams kicking himself; Game 3 vs Giants

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Can the Washington Nationals, owners of the best regular season record in the NL, avoid a three-game sweep at the hands of the San Francisco Giants? They will have to beat or outlast Madison Bumgarner to do it. Game Time 5:00 PM from AT&T...

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

While Washington Nationals' skipper Matt Williams' comments about "kicking himself" over the decision-gone-wrong to lift Jordan Zimmermann in favor of closer Drew Storen in the ninth inning on Saturday night grabbed the headlines on Sunday, as the Nats prepare for Game 3 of the NLDS in San Francisco, the first-year skipper did talk about the offensive issues so far in the postseason.

Before Saturday's game, Williams preached patience against Giants' starter Tim Hudson.

""We want to certainly look at those options. So we'll go over that. There's nothing as of right now as far as getting Zimm in the game in any certain position. But there's opportunity for that..." - Matt Williams on potential lineup changes for Game 3

"Be patient, use a big part of the field, " Williams said in his pregame meeting.

"It is patience, and it is middle-of-the-diamond approach for us if we are going to have success against him."

On Sunday he said the patience the Nationals' hitters displayed this season has been mostly absent through the first two postseason games.

"I just think that it's a little bit of impatience," Williams told reporters.

"There's been some‑‑ both guys have pitched against us live down in the strike zone and below the strike zone. So the key is to be patient. And I think that we have swung at some pitches that have been down and out of the strike zone, which has resulted in some early outs and not being able to string things together. So doesn't get any easier tomorrow for sure, so we have to get back to what we do and relax and go about our business."

This afternoon, in Game 3 of the NLDS, which is set for 5:00 PM EDT from AT&T Park, the Nationals will have to beat Madison Bumgarner, which they did earlier this season, when they visited San Francisco in June and Doug Fister outdueled the Giants' left-hander. Can Fister help keep the season alive? Tune it at 5:00 to find out.

Will the Nats make changes on offense? Will Ryan Zimmerman get a start?

"We want to certainly look at those options," Williams said of potential lineup changes. "So we'll go over that. There's nothing as of right now as far as getting Zim in the game in any certain position. But there's opportunity for that, so we'll look at it, we'll look at the matchups that we have against Madison and see how guys have done."

Meanwhile, if you couldn't bring yourself to read the news yesterday as you recovered from Game 2 of the NLDS, we've got you covered. Links and lots of them, starting... RIGHT NOW!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!! (TODAY IN TWO PARTS):

• "Much as they still believe in reaching for the sky, even now, they seem to have gotten the memo that you can't build a skyscraper without building the first floor first." - "Nationals focusing only on Game 3" - Jayson Stark, ESPN

• "Some defeats carry so much extra weight that no one can honestly think of them as just one defeat or 'another game.'" - "How the Nationals handle 18-inning loss will determine what happens in Game 3, and beyond" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post

• NATS BEAT:

• "Williams understands the criticism. He’s his own worst critic. And he admitted as much Sunday afternoon, once the dust had settled." - "Matt Williams: 'I kicked myself all night' over 9th inning decision" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "Storen had a 1.12 ERA in the regular season and was 10-for-10 in save chances since taking over the closer's role in early September..." - "Nationals Pastime: Williams on decision in ninth: 'I kicked myself ... but we have a reason for that move'" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "Since struggling as a surprise injury replacement during his postseason debut in 2011, Fister has gone 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 15 October games, all with the Tigers." - "Washington Nationals at San Francisco Giants - October 6, 2014" - Anthony DiComo, MLB.com Preview

• "In the hours before Game 3 on Monday afternoon, the Nationals will have gained an intimate knowledge of the difference between the improbable and the impossible." - "How the Nationals can come back" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• "But it's not like the Nats have been outplayed all that badly in these first two games of the NLDS. It's not like they haven't been able to hang with the Giants." - "Nationals Pastime: Nats now viewing NLDS as 'a chance to do something special'" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "By the time they arrived at AT&T Park on Sunday afternoon, roughly three-quarters of the roster having reported for what was billed as an optional workout, the Nationals no longer looked or sounded like zombies." - "Nationals’ season on the brink entering Game 3 of NLDS" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "With an off day to put Game 2 behind them, Matt Williams and Co. remain confident they can get the job done." - "Nationals know the task at hand: It’s win or go home in Game 3 of NLDS against Giants" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• "The Nationals are not showing any signs of being down on themselves." - "Nats confident headed into must-win Game 3" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com

• "Although Williams wasn’t happy with the results, he was still comfortable with the reasoning behind the decision-making." - "Matt Williams offers a more detailed explanation for pulling Jordan Zimmermann for Drew Storen" - James Wagner, The Washington Post

• "Storen again blew the save in a Nationals’ playoff defeat, this time against the San Francisco Giants. Fortunately for the Nats, this one didn’t end their season." - "Storen again blows save in NLDS, as Nats lose to Giants in Game 2" - Chase Hughes, Nats Insider

• "Knorr has aspirations of managing in the major leagues, and finished as a finalist for the Nationals’ managerial vacancy last winter..." - "Randy Knorr on managing the Nationals in the playoffs after Matt Williams’s ejection" - James Wagner, The Washington Post

• "Whether he was toeing the company line, or speaking from the heart, Zimmermann said he understood and agreed with his skipper's call to the bullpen..." - "Nationals Pastime: Zimmermann backs Williams' decision to pull him in ninth inning" - Pete Kerzel, MASNSports.com

• "'He's our closer,' Williams said. 'He's been perfect in every situation we put him in since he's been in that role, with the exception of the last game he pitched." - "Williams leaves no doubt that Storen is Nats' closer" - Aaron Leibowitz, nationals.com

• "The Nationals’ hopes at extending their postseason hinges on their ability to not just anticipate but to execute against one of the league’s most challenging pitchers." - "Nats face tall task in solving Madison Bumgarner" - Rick Maese, The Washington Post

• "And then Roark finally got the call. He was the last man standing out there, having spent nearly six hours watching from the right field corner..." - "Roark’s postseason debut ends in frustrating fashion" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "Today, most of the Nats' roster showed up at AT&T Park for an optional team workout. Players took BP, fielded grounders, shagged fly balls and went through their normal routine." - "Nationals Pastime: Moving on from the marathon" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "It is time for the Washington Nationals to display their better selves, to demonstrate why they were the National League's best team over 162 regular-season games." - "Now is time for NL-best Nats to reveal themselves" - Mike Bauman, nationals.com

• "The Nationals face a stiff challenge on Monday: Crawl out of an 0-2 series hole — caused mostly by their suddenly-dormant offense..." - "The Nationals season lies in Doug Fister’s hands" - James Wagner, The Washington Post

• "None of those three left-handed hitters has looked good so far in the series, and Zimmerman would pose a better matchup against Giants ace lefty Madison Bumgarner than any of them." - "Nationals will consider lineup changes for Game 3" - Mark Zuckerman, Nats Insider

• "The question arises about Zimmerman's hamstring and his lateral agility at third base. It seems to be a sacrifice that is worth taking with the season on the line." - "Patient approach, starting Zimmerman could be keys to Game 3" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "It may be years until we discover a force or scenario that can ruffle or change Anthony Rendon on a baseball diamond." - "Anthony Rendon shines in first playoff appearance" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• "Only one other postseason game in MLB history reached 18 innings: Game 4 of the 2005 NLDS between the Braves and Astros. Tim Hudson started that game and Adam LaRoche played first base." - "Nats-Giants NLDS Game 2 by the numbers: a historic night" - Chase Hughes, Nats Insider

• Your Daily Message from the Dalai Lama on Twitter (@Dalai Lama):

• NATIONAL(S) BEAT:

• "The Giants have had a reputation for many things while winning two of the past four titles. They're well-coached, resilient, passionate and rise to the occasion in October's toughest moments." - "Homegrown talent a key to San Francisco Giants' latest playoff run" - Alex Pavlovic, San Jose Mercury News

• "This is a story all about how an umpire flipped-turned a playoff game upside down." - "The Washington Nationals vs. Vic Carapazza" - August Gegerstrom, FanGraphs Baseball

• "The stars couldn’t be aligned much better above the Bay Bridge for the Giants in this NL Division Series." - "Good luck, Nats: The best lefty not named Kershaw awaits" - Mike Puma, New York Post

• "Tim Hudson may have been only partially correct when he suggested that the Washington Nationals lacked the determination of his team, the San Francisco Giants." - "Overreactions show Williams's shortcomings as a major league manager" - Paul Freeland, The National

• "The only people still making a point of attending all the Nationals playoff games—including Blitzer, who says he has tickets 'all the way through to the World Series'—are those who are proud to be members of that Washington establishment." - "Can America Root for a Town That Can't Root for Its Team?" - Will Leitch, Bloomberg Politics

• "But Williams still is just a rookie, and through two games of the N.L. Division Series, it's showing the way it once did when he was a Giants rookie player." - "San Francisco Giants' MVP in this series watches from the dugout" - Carl Steward, ContraCostaTimes.com

• "Williams shouted a few words at Carapazza, then appeared to tell the umpire 'you have got to throw me out of this [expletive] game right now.'" - "Did Nationals manager Matt Williams ask to be ejected?" - Nick Schwartz, For The Win

• "During his post-game interview early Sunday morning, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy looked drained. That was evident even watching it on TV." - "Brevard native Bochy manages a thriller" - Jim Cawley, FLORIDA TODAY

• "The last thing you need in a game like this is to lose a player or your manager over a late-game freak-out..." - "Loss in 18 puts Nats on cusp of elimination" - Christina Kahrl, SweetSpot Blog - ESPN

• "Zimmermann, coming off a no-hitter in the season finale, retired 20 in a row in this one and appeared on the verge of pitching the Nationals right back into their NLDS matchup with the Giants." - "Bad pitching call leads to a long and painful October defeat for Nats" - Jon Heyman, BSSports.com

• "2014 was his third straight 20 home run, 20 stolen base season, and his fourth straight 20+ stolen base season." - "A Look back at our 2014 Fantasy Shortstop Rankings" - Ray Guilfoyle, Fake Teams

• "Major League Baseball could not have asked for a better first week of postseason drama..." - "Can Baseball Maintain Dramatic First-Week Momentum Through World Series?" - David Lariviere, Forbes

• "For all the big games the Giants have played in the past five years, Monday provides an opportunity they haven't experienced often: the chance to clinch a postseason series at AT&T Park." - "Bumgarner looking to turn lights out on Washington" - Jimmy Durkin, Inside Bay Area

• "Bumgarner was dominant in beating the Pirates in the one-or-done Wild Card Game on Wednesday." - "Playoff vet Bumgarner focused on finishing off Nats" - Paul Hagen, sfgiants.com

• NATSTOWN:

• "'I’m leaving Jordan Zimmermann in,' Bowden said. 'I’m betting on big boys in big moments, and the stuff that he had, I had no doubt he’s going to finish that game.'" - "Jim Bowden, Manny Acta agree that Matt Williams shouldn’t have removed Jordan Zimmermann" - Dan Steinberg, The Washington Post

• "It became fashionable to dump on Nats fans for leaving their seats during the 6:23 long game." - "GAME 2: NATS 1 SF GIANTS 2" - William F. Yurasko, William World News

• "NLDS game 2: 18 innings to deep disappointment" - Nat Anacostia, Nats Noodles

• "We've all heard that baseball is a game of inches. It's a seemingly small measurement that can make the difference between a ball and a strike, a hit and an out or even a win and a loss." - "In game of inches, Nationals coming up short all around" - Marty Niland, MASNSports.com

• "The Zim-cision" - Harper, Nationals Baseball

• "Watch home plate umpire Vic Carapazza get hit on the head by foul ball off the screen (Video)" - Nats Enquirer

• "As the Washington Nationals arrive in San Francisco with their backs to the wall in the National League Division Series playoffs, fans back home have taken matters into their own hands." - "Video: Fans sacrifice rubber chicken, burn sage outside Nationals Park in advance of Game 3" - Presidents Race Fan, Let Teddy Win!

• "Zimmermann had retired 20 straight Giants hitters before allowing a (questionable) walk to Joe Panik in the top of the 9th last night." - "Some Thoughts From The Longest Game In Playoff History" - Williams YoderThe Nats Blog

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Braves: "Peter Gammons also reports that the Braves have hired Roy Clark and promoted Brian Bridges. Clark will be a special assistant to the GM, Baseball America reports, and Bridges will become the scouting director." - "MLB hot stove: Braves make front office changes to re-build minor league system" - Mike Vorkunov, NJ.com

Marlins: "The Miami Marlins lost Jose Fernandez to an elbow injury to start the 2014 season, and it seemed at the time that much of their year would be broken as a result of the injury." - "2014 Marlins Season Review: Starting pitcher success" - Michael Jong, Fish Stripes

Mets: "The breaking ball was the key to Jacob deGrom‘s surprising 2014, according to prospect reporter John Sickels (Minor League Ball, Oct. 6)." - "It was all about the breaking ball for Jacob deGrom" - Metsblog

Phillies: "Mario Hollands‘ name was something of a surprise on the Opening Day 25 man roster." - "2014 Phillies Report Card: Mario Hollands" - Ryan Sommers, Crashburn Alley