So what was Jim Riggleman thinking?

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I’m still pretty stunned by the Jim Riggleman resignation.  And to be honest, I still can’t decide if it was a smart move by Riggleman or the dumbest thing ever.

On the one hand, Riggleman says that he’s been “disrespected.”  We’ve heard that from wide receivers and power forwards before, but we’re not used to hearing it from 58-year-old managers.  I can picture a level of disrespect from a boss that might make me snap like Riggleman appears to have snapped, but it would be pretty extreme. More than merely not acceding to my demands that a contract option be picked up, as is reportedly the case with Riggleman. I’m thinking more like Riggleman asking that it be picked up and Mike Rizzo giving him an atomic wedgie.

It’s also possible that this was totally calculated.  Perhaps Riggleman wasn’t treated with extreme disrespect but he nonetheless knew for certain that the Nationals were not going to keep him on after 2011 no matter what happened. Perhaps he viewed it as a good time to leave — with a team playing great baseball and the perception that he rallied them into over-achievement — thereby setting himself up as a bit of a hotter property on the 2012 managerial market than he’d otherwise be.  Risky — by this point I think people have a good sense of what Jim Riggleman is all about — but not inconceivable.

Ultimately, though, I’m thinking this was a bad play for Riggleman.  Despite the immediate F-You thrill that telling Mike Rizzo to shove it may have brought him, the perception from all of this is likely going to be that Riggleman quit on his team in a snit. A team that — against all odds — may have a legitimate shot at the playoffs.

We tolerate the playing of the disrespect card from those wide receivers and power forwards a bit more because they’re special and rare talents and are given more leeway if they are, on occasion, temperamental. Not so with managers, who are supposed to be a source of stability.  As it stands right now, I don’t think I’d want to hire Jim Riggleman to manage my team based on this move alone. I think a lot of teams will feel that way.

Maybe Riggleman too will feel this way before he goes to bed tonight and the adrenaline wears off.  And maybe, just maybe, this will be the scene tomorrow afternoon in the Nationals’ clubhouse before they take on the White Sox in Chicago.  Can’t hurt, right?

Brewers hold off the Dodgers to force Game 7 of the NLCS

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Down 3-2 in the NLCS, the Brewers faced a must-win situation during Game 6 on Friday. Any residual uncertainty they might have felt about their chances of extending the series was all but resolved in the first inning, however, when Jesús Aguilar, Mike Moustakas, and Erik Kratz combined for a four-run spread to take an early lead. Powered by those early-game RBI, as well as masterful performances from Wade Miley, Corey Knebel, and Corbin Burnes, the club surged to a 7-2 win to pull even with the Dodgers and force a Game 7 tiebreaker.

Left-hander Wade Miley trounced the Dodgers in 4 1/3 innings of two-run, four-strikeout ball. He was bested by David Freese in the very first at-bat of the night, which culminated with a 402-footer to right field to put Los Angeles on the board, 1-0. After a few scoreless innings from the Dodgers, Freese returned to torment Miley in the top of the fifth, this time with an RBI double that narrowed the Brewers’ advantage from four runs to three.

Things didn’t go nearly as smoothly for opposing lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu. In the bottom of the first inning, Ryu allowed a leadoff single to Lorenzo Cain, followed by a four-pitch walk to Ryan Braun. Jesús Aguilar came up to bat with two out and two on, then smacked a two-RBI line drive double to right field. Moustakas and Kratz went back-to-back-to-back with Aguilar, putting up another three runs on an RBI double and single, respectively.

The Brewers kept rolling in the second inning. Christian Yelich and Braun each collected a double off of Ryu, bringing Milwaukee’s lead to 5-1 over Los Angeles. Braun advanced to third on a Travis Shaw groundout, but with Aguilar up to bat, Ryu wasn’t going to chance a repeat of the Dodgers’ first-inning debacle. He intentionally walked Aguilar, then whiffed Moustakas on three straight fastballs to cap the inning.

By the time both Miley and Ryu were forced from the mound, the Brewers stood 5-2 above their opponents. Right-hander Corey Knebel worked a scoreless 1 2/3 innings, striking out Manny Machado to eliminate another potential rally from the Dodgers in the fifth inning and retiring all four batters in the sixth (save for Joc Pederson, who reached base after taking a 96.3-MPH fastball to the wrist). The righty received another significant opportunity to do some damage against the Dodgers in the bottom of the fifth, when he came up to bat for the first time in his professional career with the bases loaded and two outs… but saw just four pitches before swinging at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.

After Ryu’s unexpected departure in the third, Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts cycled through five pitchers — Julio Urías, Alex Wood, Dylan Floro, Caleb Ferguson, and Kenta Maeda — in an attempt to squelch the Brewers’ comeback. The bullpen combined for four consecutive scoreless frames, but was ultimately foiled in the seventh, when, with runners on second and third and two outs, a wild pitch from Maeda ricocheted off the front of home plate and allowed Aguilar to plate yet another insurance run. Still not content with a two-hit, two-RBI performance, Aguilar came back in the bottom of the eighth with an RBI single — only moments after a failed double play that would have ended the inning — to bring the Brewers to a cushy 7-2 advantage as they entered the ninth.

No similar last-minute rallies awaited the Dodgers there. Rookie right-hander Corbin Burnes orchestrated another flawless 1-2-3 inning in the ninth, retiring Pederson and Puig with consecutive strikeouts and inducing a game-inning, series-extending pop-up from Matt Kemp to wrap the win.

Game 7 is set for 8:09 PM EDT on Saturday. The starters for both clubs have yet to be announced.