Say this about Nationals manager Matt Williams: He’s immensely even-keeled regardless of the situation. It’s hard to tell if he’s eight runs up or eight runs down just by looking at the expression on his face.
In his postgame meeting with the media following the Nationals’ 4-1 win over the Giants in Game 3 of the National League Division Series, Williams was his typical focused and unflappable self, refusing to bite on questions about his team’s two games to one hole in the best-of-five series again espousing a one-game-at-a-time mantra.
Here’s more from the victorious manager after Game 3.
Williams on what he thought of the dire situation the Nats were in and how Fister responded: “Well, everybody was well aware of where we were at. You know, it doesn’t change for tomorrow. Same situation. But Doug pitched great. He was in command all day with everything. You know, he just continues to compete for us, and we were able to manufacture something there. Both sides of the diamond, the offense, wasn’t there today, but we were able to get a couple guys on and lay down a bunt and that was the difference.”
If the throw by Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner on Wilson Ramos’ bunt in the seventh goes to first base, is Fister pulled for a pinch-hitter?: “Yeah, I think we’ll hit (Ryan Zimmerman) there. We’ve got to try to score a run there, and Madison’s tough. If you get an opportunity, you have to try. So, yeah, I think Doug’s out of the game, we’ll probably hit Zim there and take our chances.”
What was Williams’ reasoning for bunting Ramos?: “Just we’ve got to get a guy to third base with less than two out. He took the first two. Bumgarner made nice pitches on him on the first two, but he was able to get it down. We practice that every day in our BP rounds, and you never know when you’re going to have to do it. So he did a nice job of getting it down.”
Did Ramos, who hasn’t bunted since 2011, do a double take when he got the sign from third base coach Bobby Henley?: “No, Bobby walked down and talked to him. Yeah, it’s a dire situation, we’ve got to try to score a run. So it’s important for us to be able to execute there, and he did. He laid it down nicely.”
What did Williams think of the job Bryce Harper did on offense and on defense, with two run‑saving plays?: “It’s a difficult outfield to play. Sunny field in left on a day game like this, so it’s not easy; wind - it wasn’t really windy early on, but the wind picked up and he made a couple really nice plays. Of course, the homer that added another run for us. But first and foremost, he was great defensively. Went up against the wall and made that play with a couple guys on; that could change the game for us.”
How important was it for closer Drew Storen to bounce back after blowing the save Saturday night?: “Yeah, it’s important for him. You know, made a good pitch on (Gregor) Blanco, and then the slider to (Hunter) Pence is probably a little bit up. But he did a nice job of staying on it and hitting it. And then he worked out of it. So that’s important for him, important for us, of course, to win the game. Got an another one tomorrow. See what we can do there.”
Williams on the swing in momentum in a five-game series and where he thinks the Nationals are: “We find ourselves in the same position we were today. If we lose tomorrow, then it’s all over. So ,you know, we’re in the same spot. You know, we’ve got an opportunity to win that game tomorrow. So we have to do things correctly like we did today. We have to play good defense. We have got to execute, if necessary. We know we have to score some runs if we’re going to have a chance to do that. That’s our objective and that’s our mindset. “
Did Williams think the Nationals put together better at-bats in Game 3?: “Yeah, better today. Jayson (Werth) hit a ball with guys on first and second that can easily go through. (Joe) Panik made a nice play ranging to his left. (Denard Span) stayed on the ball. Sometimes it’s important to see that left‑on‑left matchup if you’re pulling off or if you’re not seeing it well, you tend to stay back a little bit more and that can get him going.
Bryce had a great at‑bat the first time up and hit Bumgarner and deflected, otherwise that may be a base hit. The lefties stayed on him good today and we were able to get a couple. We feel good about that.”
Williams on why left-hander Gio Gonzalez is a good choice to start Game 4 for the Nats: “Well, over the last six weeks, he’s given us really good pitching performances. His numbers the last month of the season, especially, last four starts, were fantastic. So it may change their lineup a little bit. It may not be so lefty‑heavy with Gio going tomorrow. So we’ll see how that plays. But, you know, he’s been really good. He’s been going deep in games for us and using all of his pitches for strikes when he wants to. So hope for more of the same tomorrow.”
Did Fister look rusty because he’d had such a long layoff since his last start?: “I don’t know, I thought he was throwing it where he wanted to throw it. I don’t think he was missing - if he was missing, it was just by a little bit. I thought he had good command all day. The fact that he was able to get deep in the game is kind of indicative of him having his command. Yeah, he was fine. I didn’t see anything other than him being perfectly comfortable out there from the first inning on.”
When would Rafael Soriano or Matt Thornton, who were warming behind Storen in the ninth, have come into the game?: “I don’t know. They are hot and ready if needed. So I’m not going to speculate at what point we would bring them in. But we needed them up and ready and hot; got guys on second and third and nobody out, it’s important for us to shut that game down. We have to win that game. So that’s why they were up.”