May 12, 2013, 11:00 PM EDT
There’s no telling how Sunday’s game at Nationals Park would have ended had Gio Gonzalez still been on the mound for the eighth and ninth innings, trying to finish off a 2-hit shutout. Perhaps the Nationals still would have found a way to lose to the Cubs amid a flurry of seeing-eye singles, a freak throw that ricocheted off a bat and a highly questionable strike zone from fill-in umpire John Tumpane.
To be sure, plenty of things went wrong for the Nationals over the final two innings of their 2-1 loss. But manager Davey Johnson’s decision to pinch-hit for Gonzalez in the bottom of the seventh and entrust the rest of the game to his bullpen set in motion the chain of events that made it all possible.
“We’ve got a 1-run lead,” Johnson explained. “Also, very seldom early in the season will I let a guy go out there and if he gets a guy on … I don’t want him to lose a ballgame late in the game. Just the way I manage. Chalk it up to me. You don’t like it? Chalk it up to me. Didn’t work out.”
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