Nationals manager Davey Johnson says he would have offered to step down from his position if the team continued to fumble, rather than go on a 22-7 run since August 20. In Adam Kilgore’s column for the Washington Post, Johnson said:
“I always wanted to stay and give us a chance to win,” Johnson said. “But I’m team-first, organization-first, if we needed more information on in-house managers.”
Over the last 29 games, the Nationals’ previously-dormant offense came alive, averaging nearly 5.5 runs per game. Meanwhile, the pitching staff became even more of a stalwart, posting an aggregate 3.23 ERA in the same span of time. The Nationals enter tonight’s game against the Marlins at 82-71, five games out of the second NL Wild Card-leading Reds.
This is Johnson’s last season with the Nationals. He will shift into a role as a consultant with the team after the season, and the Nationals will begin a search for a new manager.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.