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Johnson sets the tone for Nats

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Johnson sets the tone for Nats

When the 2012 Nationals began their season, manager Davey Johnson was tasked with taking a team that had won 80 games the previous season to the next level, to make them a playoff team. He had to take a team overflowing with talent and help them realize their potential as a contender in the National League. But at 69-years-old and the leagues oldest manager, it was a road he had traveled many times before.

Johnson took over as manager of the New York Mets before the 1984 season and saw them improve by 22 wins. In 1996 with the Orioles he helped them climb by 17 victories and make the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. And now, after Washingtons 4-1 win over the Dodgers, Johnson has his team in the playoffs and with 11 more wins than they won the previous year.

At 91 wins and counting, Johnson has played a central role in yet another dramatic franchise turnaround. His been there presence and experience is something not lost among his players.

Theres a lot of people around here that you can point fingers at that had a lot to do with the change in direction and everything that goes into that in the ballclub and the organization, but none any bigger than Davey, Jayson Werth said.

When I got here last here, this place was a mess. It was upside down. We had a lot of work to do. At times it felt like we would never get to play in October. Then Davey took over in the middle of the season and kind of did things his own way, went about business the way Davey goes about business and he was the guy that he is. You could start to sense and see that the shape was starting to turn around.

Johnson took over as manager with 83 games left to go in the 2011 season, but was just getting to know his team by the time the year was over. Coming in to 2012 he had a roster built for his style of coaching. He has a deep bench with powerful bats and an A and B bullpen, as he likes to say. But with all the players that make up the Washington Nationals, Johnson has somehow found a way to make them collectively play as the best team in baseball.

One method of coaching that his players say has worked, has to do with downplaying praise aimed towards him and instead keeping focus on the team.

I think that says a lot about it right there, that he downplays everything. He doesnt want the praise going in his direction. He has been phenomenal all year, and not just the things you guys see on the field and the moves he makes, Adam LaRoche said.

The way he handles the young guys and the older guys in here when media and other people arent around, hes a first class guy. He cares about his players and hes made that known, he shows it. He is a great manager.

Second baseman Danny Espinosa describes a sort of hands-off approach by Johnson, something that seems to give his players confidence.

He let us be ourselves. I dont think he ever over-managed any of us. He never tried to control us and say, youre this type of player or youre that type of player. He just allowed us to go out there and prepare the way we prepare and let us play good ball.

With a World Series ring as the skipper of the 1986 Mets, and a baseball life lined with accomplishments, Johnson has handled situations like Thursday night before. As to how he conducted the moments after the game in the locker room, just minutes after the first clinching the first playoff berth for a D.C. baseball team since 1933?

Well we had a little champagne and I guess they wanted me to say something. I said, 'What's this? We ain't done yet.' Something like that. They all had the same feeling. That this was just a baby step to get to the playoffs. But we want to win the division, Johnson said.

You know Davey, hes not going to give a 20 minute speech. He had some brief words, kind of the same thing, congratulations but lets go, we got a big game tomorrow and keep working. He gets it, he knows it is big deal for the organization and the city. But for us, this wasnt the goal coming out of spring, LaRoche said.

The Nationals will be in the playoffs, this they know. But the magic number to clinch the National League East and ensure at least a five-game series remains at eight. Having their season come down to just one game is something Davey and the Nationals know they want nothing to do with. Johnson is making his first appearance in the postseason since 1997 with Baltimore, a span of 15 years, and he wants to make it count.

So as they move forward, with just 13 games left, Johnson must keep his team on the same level they have been all season. Though the Nationals have undoubtedly come far, the transformation isnt quite yet complete.

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

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Former Nats manager Jim Riggleman named interim manager of Reds

Remember Jim Riggleman, the infamous Nats manager that resigned from the position back in 2011 after a win against the Seattle Mariners? Well he's back in a managerial position.

Bryan Price was fired as manager of the Cinncinati Reds Thursday, after the team started the 2018 season 3-15. Riggleman, who spent four seasons as their bench coach, was named the interim manager to replace Price.

Riggleman was promoted to interim manager of the Nats in July of 2009, after Manny Acta was let go midseason. He stayed on as manager for 2010 and 2011, and he then resigned from the team on June 23, 2011 after a win agaisnt the Seattle Mariners. He had lead the team to a win in 11 of their last 12 games prior to stepping away.

The reason behind the dramatic exit was due to the organization not yet picking up his 2012 contract option. He had reportedly requested a conversation with the front office about his future with the organization, and was upset after they declined. At 58 years-old, he felt he deserved more respect.

He's been with the Reds organization since 2012, and has spent time managing the Padres, Cubs and Mariners, in addition to the Nationals. His career winning pct. with each team has been below-.500.

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

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Nationals fall after Mets score 9 runs in 8th inning

NEW YORK -- Yoenis Cespedes launched a grand slam during a nine-run outburst in the eighth inning that rallied the New York Mets past the Washington Nationals 11-5 on Wednesday night, preventing a three-game sweep.

Todd Frazier tied it at 4 with a two-run single and pinch-hitter Juan Lagares put New York ahead for the first time with a two-run double off ineffective setup man Ryan Madson (0-2).

Shut down by Tanner Roark for seven innings, the first-place Mets broke loose in the eighth and improved to 13-4 with a stirring victory against their NL East rivals.

Ryan Zimmerman homered twice, tripled and drove in four runs for the Nationals, who pulled off their own big comeback in the eighth inning of the series opener.

Two nights later, New York returned the favor.

Roark limited the Mets to two hits and left leading 4-2. Michael Conforto, Cespedes and Asdrubal Cabrera singled off Madson to load the bases with nobody out in the eighth. Jay Bruce fouled out before Frazier smacked a two-run single up the middle and advanced to second on the throw home.

After an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases again, pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores struck out. Lagares then lined a two-run double the other way, just inside the right-field line at the outer edge of the infield grass, to put the Mets up 6-4.

Sammy Solis walked Amed Rosario and Conforto to force in a run. Cespedes connected for his sixth career slam -- the third by the Mets already this season -- off A.J. Cole, sending fans into a frenzy.

Both of Cespedes' hits in the inning came on 0-2 pitches.

AJ Ramos (1-1) worked a perfect inning for his first win with the Mets since being acquired from Miami last July.

Howie Kendrick reached on an infield single for Washington in the first and Bryce Harper drew his 24th walk, most in the majors. Zimmerman, batting .121 at that point and struggling to make opponents pay for bypassing Harper, came through with a drive to left-center off Steven Matz for his second home run of the season.

Matz steadied himself after a 33-pitch first inning and retired his final 10 batters. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after throwing 74 pitches.

Cabrera doubled to open the fourth and scored on Gonzalez's single. Zimmerman had a chance to start an inning-ending double play, but his throwing error from first base allowed another run to score on Jose Lobaton's RBI grounder as the Mets cut it to 3-2.

After Mets pitchers retired 16 in a row, Zimmerman's leadoff triple in the seventh got past a diving Bruce in right field, and Moises Sierra followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Zimmerman also hit a solo homer in the ninth.