During Tuesday’s gut-wrenching, hard-to-believe seventh-inning meltdown, Nationals fans booed. Drew Storen, the last of three relievers to cough up a six-run lead, heard the displeasure from fans as he walked in the tying-run against the Mets. After the game, Manager Matt Williams received the same reception.
Following Williams’s standard postgame press conference with reporters, a handful of fans in the next-door Presidents Club dining room banged on the press conference room glass and booed. (Fans in that room are allowed to watch the manager postgame press conference.) Williams didn’t look in that direction, instead walking out of the room and toward the clubhouse.
Asked about the incident before Wednesday’s game, Williams handled it with his usual even keel demeanor.
“It’s never any fun,” he said. “I can tell you that. If I know anything about our group or about myself personally, when times are difficult then you put your head down and you go. You don’t have a choice in this game other than to be prepared for today and let it fly. Our fan base is fantastic. They’re passionate about this team. They want us to win desperately as we do and we want to provide that for them and provide a quality team that they can come enjoy watch play and can get behind. So hopefully, that starts today and we can put on this run and make a race of it.”
Flaws in the roster have been exposed through under-performance and injuries, but Williams has also endured a heavy dose of criticism for his managerial style. He was named the 2014 National League Manager of the Year but he has come under fire from the fan base for bullpen choices and strategic decisions.
“It’s part of the job,” he said. “I know that we’re all, to a man, doing everything we can to win a game. We stand by each other and I support our guys. I support our coaches and we’re in this together and we’ll do everything we can to win this together and beyond.”
Williams said he didn’t address the team after Tuesday’s deflating loss. “They know,” he said. He added that the team had a good attitude when they arrived at Nationals Park on Wednesday afternoon for a team photo. But even though he and players have all taken a turn-the-page philosophy this season, many players admitted following Tuesday’s game that it a difficult loss to stomach, and even among the worst in their careers.
Asked if such defeats were harder to handle as a player or manager, Williams said: “I would imagine it’s tougher as a manager because when you’re playing you get in the routine of playing again the next day. It is what it is and there’s nothing we can do now instead of go today and try to beat the Mets today. We’ll give everybody an off-day tomorrow and hopefully get a little healthier and go from there. We’ve got a lot of games left and there’s no reason we can’t put together a little run.”