MASN studio analyst Ray Knight and color commentator F.P. Santangelo shared an awkward exchange on the topic of a Matt Williams managerial decision following the Nationals’ 8-4 loss to the Phillies on Wednesday. Watching the home team lose four out of five, including a sweep by Philadelphia, is apparently enough to put everyone a little on edge.
The back story: The Phillies led off the bottom of the sixth with consecutive hits, including a run-scoring double by Domonic Brown that cut the Nationals’ lead to 4-3. As Wil Nieves stepped to the plate against Doug Fister, left-handed reliever Matt Thornton started to warm up in the Washington bullpen. Left-handed hitter Cody Asche was on deck, followed by the pitcher’s spot.
“That might be for Grady Sizemore as a pinch-hitter,” Santangelo said of Thornton’s bullpen activity. “I don’t think he’ll be ready in time for Cody Asche. I don’t know if Matt Williams is thinking that Doug Fister is done yet.”
Brown ran into an out on a fielder’s-choice grounder to shortstop and Fister got Asche to fly out to left. With two outs and a runner on first, Sizemore, who was 3 for 8 in his career against Fister, pinch hit for Kendrick. Fister, who was at 94 pitches, remained in the game and gave up a two-run homer.
“Well, you’re wondering if Matt Williams was going to bring in Matt Thornton right there to face Sizemore,” Santangelo said after the Phillies took a 5-4 lead. “He left Doug Fister in the game and Sizemore shot him out of here with the curveball.”
Knight brought up Williams’s decision to allow Fister to face Sizemore during the postgame show and asked Santangelo for his opinion. (For the record, Sizemore is 5 for 18 with a home run in his career against Thornton.)
“For a guy that’s pushed all the right buttons for the last two weeks and done everything, including the lineup and every move he’s made, I’m not going to sit up here and question one that could’ve went however you thought it could’ve went,” Santangelo said.
“Well, I’ll question it,” Knight said. “I don’t mind questioning it. I had a million people question me. He had the left-hander up, he had him up for a reason. You don’t want to warm him up and have to set him back down. I just wondered who he had him up for.”
“Well, he brought him in the game, so he didn’t sit him back down,” Santangelo said. “He just didn’t bring him in for Grady Sizemore.”
“I — I saw that, F.P.,” Knight said.
At this point, the tension was palpable. Enter peacemaker Bob Carpenter.
“Well, you know, it’s a good question, Ray,” he said. “I guess that’s the kind of stuff that gets answered, as you well know, in those postgame press conferences when the guys come in and want to know why you did what you did.”
Here’s video of the exchange, via @_m_mcc:
Williams didn’t seem to address the decision after the game.
Thanks to @JWerthGnome.