ATLANTA - Davey Johnson was already dressed in his street clothes when he met with reporters after today’s game. He’d had a good bit of time to get showered and changed after getting ejected for the first time this season during the sixth inning of today’s 5-4 Nationals loss.
Johnson got tossed by first base umpire Marvin Hudson for arguing a play at first base in which Hudson ruled that Adam LaRoche was off the bag when he caught a throw from pitcher Edwin Jackson. Replays showed LaRoche’s foot had stayed on the bag, but Braves left fielder Martin Prado was called safe at first.
The call got Johnson fuming, not as much because Hudson missed the call, but because he refused to ask the other umpires for assistance to ensure LaRoche’s foot was actually off the base.
“It’s a critical point in the ballgame,” Johnson said. “It’s my pitcher, it’s probably the last inning and the meat of the lineup is coming up. If I can see it from 150 feet that the throw beats him and he’s on the bag and he was out of position, I wanted him to get help. Those are critical points in games. I’ve got old eyes and I can see that. He’s a good umpire. I felt like the object is to just get this right. We don’t need to give them a little added momentum here. Get some help.
“Obviously he was blocked off or something. That’s it, really. I probably overreacted but it was really a critical point in the ballgame. My pitcher pitched a heck of a ballgame, we had a lead, we don’t need to give them any gifts.”
Johnson asked Hudson to check with the other umpires and inquire if they’d seen something different, but nothing was doing.
“He wouldn’t,” Johnson said. “He wasn’t going to get no help. I just said we just need to get this right. This is not the time.”
Some managers are in favor of expanded instant replays on questionable calls. Johnson isn’t among that crowd.
“I don’t like the replay. I just wish they’d get help,” he said. “We’ve got all this technical stuff, they don’t need to do that. Some of these ballparks you really need to it, but in certain plays if they get out of position - and obviously he was out of position, he was in a line - and that’s why I wanted him to get some help. When you get out of position, get help. It’s simple.”
Jackson was clearly frustrated by the blown call, and admitted after the game that it caused him to lose a little bit of focus in the moment. Four pitches after Prado was called safe, Jason Heyward crushed a 94 mph fastball out to right-center for a game-tying two-run homer.
“It’s all about momentum in ballgames,” Johnson said. “Here my pitcher is really throwing a great ballgame. ... He gives me that inning, our bullpen’s set up, we win the game.”
Once the game was tied, the Braves kept pushing. They brought across the game-winning run in the eighth when reliever Ryan Mattheus walked two batters, allowed a single and then hit Andrelton Simmons with the bases loaded.
“He hasn’t done that all year,” Johnson said of Mattheus. “He’s been almost letter-perfect.”
The Nats were unable to rally in the ninth despite getting the potential tying run on third with one out, and they dropped their second straight tight one to the Braves. The play at first didn’t decide the game, but it was a undoubtedly a big factor in the outcome. Johnson knew that could be the case before Heyward’s homer, which is why he went after Hudson so aggressively.
“I knew I was over-arguing,” Johnson said. “But I knew, even with these old eyes, I knew I was right. I didn’t need a replay. And I’m thinking: Here’s a young man, right on top of it. Obviously he had to be out of position. But that’s part of baseball. That’s why you get thrown out. I didn’t think I was going to get thrown out this year. I was trying to be on my best behavior.”