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Rizzo defends Williams, himself as Nats season gets worse

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Rizzo defends Williams, himself as Nats season gets worse

With the team he constructed fresh off being eliminated from playoff contention, with his manager under fire and his team in the national spotlight for a public brawl featuring the best player in baseball, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo took the podium after Monday's game to a barrage of camera flashes, ready to answer as to why the Nats had found themselves in one of the more embarrassing baseball moments in recent years.

Rizzo fiddled with the microphone as he did his best to explain how Jonathan Papelbon, the closer he acquired just days before the trade deadline, had turned the Nationals' home dugout into a UFC octagon just 24 hours prior. He gave his personal opinion on the unfathomable decision to put Papelbon back into the game after he grabbed one of the game's brightest young stars by the throat and slammed him into a wall on live television.

And then the conversation took a sharp turn, as questions of not only Matt Williams' job performance arose, so did queries about the man at the podium, the brilliant baseball architect whose deal to bring Papelbon to Washington has arguably turned into one of the more colossal mistakes made by a baseball front office in recent memory.

The job security of Rizzo has not seriously come into question publicly, but the future of the manager he hand-picked before the 2014 season certainly has. Rizzo was asked point blank of Williams will be back with the Nationals in 2016.

"We're going to make 2016 decisions after we finish 2015. He's under contract to be the manager next year," Rizzo said.

Rizzo then explained why he thinks Williams has struggled to keep the Nationals afloat this season:

"I think Matt has persevered through a lot of different injuries, a lot of different ebbs and flows of the season. He's had to juggle maybe as many different lineups as any manager has in baseball and many injuries at different times and groups of players coming off the disabled list at the same time."

Multiple outlets including CBS Sports and The Washington Post have reported on a rift within the Nats' clubhouse, some suggesting Williams has lost the support of key players. Rizzo would not respond to those accusations directly.

"If I knew who that person was, I would respond to it. When it's some blind accusation from an unnamed source, I don't react to those," he said.

But Rizzo would give a direct defense of his own job performance, keying in on preseason predictions which have become a sore subject for the team as a whole.

"I could say that the roster we put together in preseason, we felt it was a strong roster. You guys felt it was a strong roster. I think 17 of 18 of you picked us to win the World Series. So, I think you guys thought we created ourselves a good, balanced, high-character and high-quality lineup," he explained.

"A lot of things went wrong. When things go wrong, you find out where your deficiencies are. Things went wrong quickly and they went wrong very often. Probably, I would say that, looking back at the season, when I look back at it, I'll probably see some things that I should have done different, things that I didn't do. Everything rolls down from the general manager and the president of baseball operations' office. I take full responsibility for the quality of players that we put on the field. That goes from the 2009 season, when I took over, to after today's win."

Rizzo won't have to wait much longer to look back at the Nats' season, as it will be over in a matter of days. Then, he will have to make the difficult decision of whether to give Williams another chance.

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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.