Davey on manager award: 'That will get you fired'

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Davey on manager award: 'That will get you fired'

With what has been thus far a dream season for the Washington Nationals, at some point individuals on the club will start being recognized with awards. There could be some Gold Gloves handed out, maybe some Silver Sluggers, and possibly a Rookie of the Year trophy.

But of all the potential accolades, the best bet seems to be Davey Johnson winning National League Manager of the Year. After finishing with 80 games the previous year, the Nats are in the playoffs and have a chance at the best record in the majors.

If Johnson wins, it will be his second time winning the award as he took the hardware home for the American League in 1997 as manager of the Baltimore Orioles. Though it would seem the award comes as a high honor, Johnson doesnt have the fondest memories of the first time around.

I just have bad thoughts about that. Last time I got the award, the same time I got my pink slip, Johnson joked to the media before Mondays game. He was let go by the Orioles after winning 98 games in the regular season and taking the club to their second consecutive League Championship Series.

The Orioles are in fact headed to the playoffs this season for the first time since Johnson left Baltimore. He was asked for his thoughts on them joining the Nationals in the postseason.

I think its great. It is great, they beat the Yankees. Finish ahead of the Yankees, that will get you fired, he said.

Johnson and the Orioles finished two games ahead of New York in 1997 to win the division and squeak out the A.Ls best record. This year the Orioles remain tied with the Yankees with a record of 92-67. This is the first season they have won 80 or more since Johnson was sent packing.

The Nationals have three games left and have bigger goals in mind. After having some fun with the matter, Johnson put things back into perspective.

Im not really big on individual awards. It has always been what the team is doing as a group, he said.

Being in the playoffs, thats step one. Winning the division is step two, and winning the World Series is step three.

Suzuki still going strong

Catcher Kurt Suzuki is starting his tenth game in as many days on Monday night as the Nationals continue their quest for the N.L. East title. Johnson was asked if his backstop was starting to wear down from the workload.

He would be choking me if I wasnt playing him. I checked him, he is feeling great. He doesnt out of there, he doesnt look tired to me either.

NL East: Bartolo Colon explains why he chose not to swing the bat vs. Nats

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NL East: Bartolo Colon explains why he chose not to swing the bat vs. Nats

Ever since Bartolo Colon joined the Mets in 2014, watching him play has been as much about what he does at the plate as it has about what he does on the mound. Whether it's the bat flailing, his helmet flying off after swings-and-misses or the meme-worthy adventures on the base paths, games in which "Big Sexy" is in the lineup are rarely boring. 

Of course, the apex of The Bartolo Colon Experience came earlier this month in San Diego when the 43-year-old right hander hit his first-career home run, one that sent shockwaves throughout Baseball Twitter. But unfortunately, it appears those looking for an encore may have to wait awhile. 

During Monday's 7-1 win over the Nationals, Colon conspicuously opted not to swing at any of the 14 pitches he saw on the night, instead striking out looking three times. He told reporters afterward that the reason why was because his lower back has been bothering him ever since his infamous long ball. 

And via Marc Carig of Newsday, perhaps even the Nats knew Colon wouldn't swing: 

“Yes, I decided that because I just thought it wasn’t worth it to swing,” Colon said on the eve of his 43rd birthday after holding the Nationals to one run in seven innings. “I swing at the balls pretty hard and I thought, not worth making my back worse, so I told their catcher from the beginning, ‘Just throw it right down the middle, I’m not swinging.’ ”

Bummer. Even if Colon was joking about what he actually told Wilson Ramos, a night without him taking a hack at the plate feels like a letdown for baseball fans. 

"After that first at-bat and they threw me that changeup, I was like: ‘No, I promise you, throw it right down the middle,’” he told reporters through an interpreter. “‘I am not going to swing.’”

Luckily for the Mets, Colon gets paid to be more than just an entertaining watch at the plate. In a bounce-back effort following a few rough outings, he limited the Nats offense to one run over seven innings to raise his record on the season to 4-3. 

Nats credit adjustments made by Mets for Gio's rough outing

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Nats credit adjustments made by Mets for Gio's rough outing

Having seen Gio Gonzalez just five days before, the New York Mets came to Washington on Monday with an adjustment to their approach. Now knowing what to expect from the Nats' lefty and having their previous meeting fresh in their mind, the Mets were aggressive early in counts and used that method to hand Gonzalez his worst start not only of this season, but in years.

Gonzalez was fine until the third inning when all hell broke loose. He hit Curtis Granderson on the elbow with one out, then saw Juan Lagares single on the first pitch of his at-bat and David Wright homer in the first pitch of his. Wright's victim was an 82 mile per hour changeup and he got every piece he needed of it.

"This game is a game of adjustments, and they adjusted quite well to Gio today," manager Dusty Baker said.

Wright's homer was one of three Gonzalez allowed in Monday's 7-1 Nats loss, a setback that tied the season series at 2-2. Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker also launched back-to-back bombs in the fifth inning.

It was the first time since July of 2009 that Gonzalez allowed at least seven earned runs and three homers in a single game. He hadn't allowed three homers since July of 2011 and had surrendered just three total in his previous eight starts of 2016.

"I just left pitches up. That was it. Just one of those nights," the lefty said. "They saw a pitch up and they were making contact… they were hitters being aggressive first pitch, got hits, and then they started being patient."

Baker went back to the changes the Mets made from game to game in their second look at Gio and within Monday's loss itself.

"They smell blood in the water," he said. "The adjustments, they happen so fast, in baseball like, you go to the bathroom and come back and they got five runs. It turns into a feeding frenzy."

Much will be made about Gonzalez working with catcher Wilson Ramos for the first time this season. Though the difference in his career numbers with Ramos as opposed to Jose Lobaton are negligible, it was still the first time Gonzalez and Ramos have formed a battery this year. The Mets, some may argue, aren't an easy team to get experimental against.

"It was the first time. I’m not going to judge him off one game. He’s a great catcher. Like I said, it was just unfortunate," Gonzalez said.

Gio, who saw his season ERA go from 1.86 to 2.87 all in a five inning span on Monday, instead turned the blame towards himself.

"I was flat today. It was just one of those games. I take this one on me. He did everything right as part of calling the game. If I executed pitches I wanted and bring it down with more movement, different game," he said.

Gio Gonzalez shelled as Mets blow out Nats in series opener

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Gio Gonzalez shelled as Mets blow out Nats in series opener

Postgame analysis of the Nationals' 7-1 loss to the New York Mets on Monday night at Nationals Park.

How it happened: Last week the Nationals earned two blowout wins on the road against their division rival New York Mets. On Monday, it was the Mets' turn.

In a rematch between Gio Gonzalez and Bartolo Colon, this time it was Gonzalez who put in his shakiest outing of the season, a seven-run drubbing that saw his season ERA jump a full run. Gio got through the first two innings unscathed before getting clobbered for five runs in the third. Three of those came on a David Wright homer to left field, and Gio served up two more home runs in the fifth to Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker. All in all it was a trainwreck of an outing for Gonzalez, who was working with catcher Wilson Ramos for the first time this season.

What it means: The Mets have tied the season series at 2-2 with their fourth straight win overall coming off a sweep of the Brewers. The Nats now cling to a half-game lead in the NL East over New York, who have managed to hang around despite inconsistency in their pitching staff and a serious injury to Lucas Duda, one of their best hitters.

Gio gets destroyed: Before Monday night, Gonzalez sported a 2.59 ERA in 18 career starts against the Mets. In the past two seasons, Gio's ERA against New York was a microscopic 1.20 across 30 innings. And it was only one start ago that he held the Mets to one run across 6 1/3 frames. On Monday, though, Gonzalez was not as fortunate in what amounted to his worst outing in years. Gio gave up seven earned runs for the first time since May 11, 2014. He began the game with a 1.86 ERA on the season and left at 2.87. The lefty gave up 10 hits and hit a batter on Monday, but what really hurt Gio was the three homers he allowed. They were as many as he'd given up in his other eight starts this season combined and the most he's surrendered since July 8, 2011. It was the first time he's given up three homers and seven earned runs in a start since July 20, 2009.

Ramos catches Gio: Many will point to the fact Ramos was catching Gonzalez for the first time this season. But entering Monday, Gio's ERA with Ramos was 3.42 (44 GS), which is not far off from his 3.16 career mark with Jose Lobaton, his primary partner. This one can't be put on Ramos, it was just not Gonzalez' night.

Another multi-hit game for Murphy: One of the few bright spots for the Nats in the blowout loss was another multi-hit game for Daniel Murphy. The second baseman landed a single in the first inning and then another in the fourth inning. It was Murphy's 22nd multi-hit outing in 44 total games this season. Murphy now has 35 hits in May, which has him close to the Nats' team record for one month. Denard Span holds the record with 40 hits in August of 2014.

Up next: The Nats continue their series against the Mets hoping to rebound from a tough loss in the opener. Stephen Strasburg (7-0, 2.80) and Matt Harvey (3-6, 5.77) will square off again in a rematch of last Thursday's Nationals blowout win.