WASHINGTON -- Nationals manager Matt Williams faced off against his former skipper, Buck Showalter, Monday night as Washington opened a four-game, home-and-home set against the Orioles at Nationals Park.
Williams said Showalter -- who managed the D-backs from 1998 to 2000 while Williams was a member of the team -- taught him a great deal about the art of running a baseball game. The greatest lesson Williams learned during his time as a player in Arizona regarded Showalter's unwavering courage when it came to unorthodox decisions. And he pointed to one example that exemplified this rare and crucial trait.
The D-backs were facing the Giants in San Francisco on May 28, 1998. In the ninth inning, Arizona was on the field with a two-run lead, the bases loaded and slugger Barry Bonds at the plate. Showalter opted to walk Bonds on four pitches and bring home a run to cut the lead to one.
Showalter trusted that reliever Gregg Olson would retire the next batter even though his decision meant the D-backs could fall behind with just one single. Olson did his job and Arizona won the ballgame.
"It takes a great deal of intestinal fortitude to do something like that," Williams said. "What [Showalter] showed in that regard is that he had confidence in our pitching staff, he had confidence in our defense and he had confidence that that guy on the mound would get the next guy out."
Williams, a first-year manager, said there have been several times this season where a situation has developed on the field and he's recalled the approach Showalter used in a similar position more than a decade ago in Arizona.
"He was the most prepared manager I ever played for," Williams said. "This was back in a time when we didn't necessarily have the matchup sheets that showed what this particular guy is against that particular pitcher for his career. … But Buck always was prepared for any situation."
If LaRoche sits in Baltimore, Zim to play first
WASHINGTON -- American League teams are forced to adjust during Interleague Play at National League parks due to the lack of designated hitter.
That remained the case in Washington on Monday night for the series opener between the Nationals and Orioles at Nationals Park. Baltimore was forced to sit Steve Pearce, who is batting .326 with 10 home runs this season, to keep both Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis in the lineup. Cruz started in left field while Davis played first base.
Meanwhile, when the Nationals travel to Baltimore for the final two games of the four-game, home-and-home series, they'll face the opposite situation as the Orioles with the ability to start an extra hitter.
Manager Matt Williams said there are a number of possibilities for those two games at Camden Yards on Wednesday and Thursday regarding his lineup as well as players getting rest. Williams said Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth or Adam LaRoche could all get days off in Baltimore. In the case that LaRoche sits, Williams said Zimmerman would move to first base, where he's started once this season.
"We have to look at the next couple of days and how we come out of it," Williams said. "We'll just have to see how it goes in the next couple [games]."
McLouth has fond memories of time with O's
WASHINGTON -- Nate McLouth went up against the Orioles on Monday night at Nationals Park for the first time since spending the 2012-13 seasons with the team.
McLouth signed a two-year deal with Nationals this past summer but said the Orioles would always have a special place in his heart. Baltimore provided the outfielder with an opportunity during the 2012 season after the Pirates released him.
"That's something that I'll be forever grateful for," McLouth said. "That year-and-a-half that I was there was just some of the best times I've had on a baseball field. Made some great friends there and got to be part of a great organization. It was a great time."
The Baltimore fan base is equally as grateful toward McLouth, who hit .318 with the team in the 2012 American League Division Series. He was an integral part in the Orioles taking the Yankees to a deciding fifth game in that series, which was part of the organization's first postseason appearance since 1997.
"It had been so long since the Orioles had been in the postseason," McLouth said. "Just to feel how exciting it was for not only the players, but especially the fans that had been watching that team and supporting the team for so long. And for them to finally get to see some postseason baseball was special."