The Washington Nationals' 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies last night ended with back-to-back K's with a runner in scoring position at second. There was a good deal of second-guessing on the internets about Nationals' skipper Matt Williams deciding not to run for Adam LaRoche, who singled his way on with one down and moved to second when Ian Desmond did the same. After the game, Williams explained why he didn't run for LaRoche until after there were two outs.
"With Bryce out there," Williams said, "their outfield defense is deep. What they don't want there is a ball in the gap. With Asdrubel coming up, they're going to try to cut down the run at the plate. If Bryce can get a base hit there, we're going to leave Adam in the game, but once there [are] two outs they're going to play a little bit tighter and we have to definitely score that run. So we decided to go ahead and pinch run Danny [Espinosa] for him so we have better speed. If we tie that game there then we take our chances later on. But with Bryce up there they're playing much deeper."
Bryce Harper struck out in his ninth-inning matchup against Phillies' closer Jonathan Papelbon, but Williams liked the way the 21-year-old slugger battled the veteran reliever, working the count full in a nine-pitch at bat.
"The more he sees, the better it is, we hope," Williams said of Harper continuing to fight.
"He had a nice at bat, unfortunately it didn't turn out for him, but he saw a lot of pitches, he took balls off the plate, fouled a few off, so yeah, it was a good at bat."
The newest National, Asdrubal Cabrera stepped in next in the at bat after Harper's, with a chance at a storybook ending to his first game in D.C., but struck out too to end the game. It was probably the toughest at bat of the night for the 28-year-old infielder, who hit a few of the line drives the Nats connected on last night that didn't fall in for hits.
"Three of them," Williams said when asked about Cabrera's well-struck outs. "The first one right at Howard for the double play. He lined one up the middle and he lined to left. And they made good plays on both of them. I think he hit the ball perfect, made a nice play, so, he did well."
• Dave Nichols from the District Sports Page and I talked about last night's loss after the game, and Nats Nightly, our post game show will be back tonight so come back and check out us. Here's last night's episode: