On Tuesday, Washington Nationals manager Davey Johnson made his first public comments since the Nats season ended with a 9-7 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals Friday night in Game 5 of the National League Division Series.
Speaking to Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post, Johnson defended two of his most controversial decisions from Friday night's game.
First, Johnson discussed his decision to bring Game 3 starter Edwin Jackson into the game in the top of the 7th inning, with the Nats holding a 6-3 lead. Jackson faced six batters and allowed one run on a hit and two walks, but the Nationals survived the inning with a 6-4 lead.
"I thought that he was good to go through the heart of the lineup, he was the best choice," Johnson said. "I value starters' stuff over a reliever's stuff. He gave up one run. He struck out two guys. He did the job."
Next, Johnson addressed the decision to pitch to Cardinals shortstop Peter Kozma with first base open, two men on, and two outs in a 7-7 game in the top of the ninth. Kozma's two-run single provided the winning margin for St. Louis. Johnson said he considered walking Kozma, who was batting ahead of Cardinals Jason Motte, but ultimately decided against it.
"But if right-on-right and we can't get out the eight-hole hitter ..." Johnson said. "Do I want to put him in a situation where he faces [Cardinals backup catcher Tony] Cruz? I could have done that. But I wanted to give him the opportunity to make pitchers' pitches, which I do all year. But unfortunately, early in the count, he gave up a hit to right. How many guys - here's my closer, who's death on right-handers, and he's got a base open. [Storen] didn't execute."
Johnson, who will turn 70 in January, also revealed that he had not signed a contract with the Nationals to manage to the 2013 season, though he and Washington General Manager Mike Rizzo had discussed returning earlier in the year. Rizzo has gone on record saying that he wants Johnson back.