MILWAUKEE - Reporters didn’t just get to meet with manager Matt Williams after tonight’s 3-0 Nationals win. We also got to meet with bench coach Randy Knorr, who took over the managerial duties in the bottom of the second inning after Williams’ first career ejection as a big league skipper.
Williams was tossed by home plate umpire Mark Wegner for arguing balls and strikes, leaving Knorr in charge the rest of the way.
It didn’t really matter much who was at the reins tonight, as Gio Gonzalez threw six scoreless innings of three-hit ball, Adam LaRoche slugged a three-run homer and the Nats bullpen worked three perfect innings with five strikeouts.
It was a relatively smooth win for the visiting team over a Brewers squad that entered this series with the best record in the National League.
Here are Knorr and Williams after the Nats’ win:
Knorr on the victory: “I think it’s a huge win for us. We’ve had our troubles with tough teams in the league and we come out here and win the first game against this team, this is a really good team over here. So it’s a good start to the road trip.”
Knorr on Williams’ ejection: “I don’t know. It happened real fast. I actually came up to see where the pitch was on Danny (Espinosa), and somebody yelled, ‘He got kicked out of the game.’ So I didn’t see it. I actually had to go watch it on tape.
Knorr on LaRoche’s homer: “That was huge. He’s been swinging the bat really well and he got a pitch he could handle, and he hit it good.”
Knorr on Gonzalez’s outing: “I think it’s all confidence. When you see a pitcher slide a little bit, his confidence is down. So I think this one might carry him over the hump a little bit and give him some confidence and it really helps our staff and helps us win ballgames.”
Knorr on closing out the win as the skipper: “This one was an easy one. We were winning!”
William on him getting credit for the managerial win: “Randy got the hold and the save. Both of them.”
Williams on the ejection by Wegner: “I wanted to have a conversation, but he didn’t want to. It’s part of the game. We had an opportunity there and it didn’t happen for us. But Adam came up with a big homer. I wanted to have that conversation, but he decided he didn’t.”
Williams on whether he was surprised he got tossed so quickly: “Oh, yeah. I was having a discussion, and so he decided that he didn’t want to hear it.”
Williams on what he was arguing about: “(Smiling) Uh ... yeah ... about the fact that we didn’t get any runs that inning. ... It bothered me that my hat was a little tight tonight. He didn’t want to talk to me anymore.”
Williams on if he watched the game after the ejection: “Yeah, the tunnel’s right there. We can watch from there. Sat in here. Talked to Gio a lot. That was fun.”
Williams on Gonzalez’s outing: “Just thought that tonight, he threw his changeup for strikes, which was good. His velocity wasn’t as high as it generally is, but he’s still working back from being out. But his changeup was good tonight for strikes and then down out of the zone when he needed it to be. Good curveball from the first inning, something we’ve talked about. Establishing that early, too. High pitch count, but he made it through six and gave us a chance. He pitched well.
Williams on how big this start could be for Gonzalez’s confidence: “I think he was happy with it. In between innings, he was telling himself to just stay on top of the ball. Make sure we stay on top of the ball. He knows his pitch count’s getting up there, but he battled through.”
Williams on LaRoche’s case for making the All-Star team: “He’s made a great case. Anytime you miss time, it’s difficult, but he’s made a great case for himself. Tonight was another example of him coming through in a big situation. He’s played really well. It was all we needed tonight. Pitching staff was great, and slider down in the zone that he stayed down on and hit to center field. He’s played really well.”