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Williams explains why he let Papelbon pitch after scuffle with Harper

Sep 27, 2015, 7:02 PM EDT

Washington Nationals relief pitcher Jonathan Papelbon delivers in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park, in Washington, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. Papelbon got into a dugout fight with teammate Bryce Harper during the inning. The Phillies won 12-5. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

By the time the bottom of the eighth inning concluded, images of Jonathan Papelbon and Bryce Harper’s dugout scuffle had just begun to circulate around Nats Park.

Given the emotions exerted between the two (Harper was seen charging into the clubhouse in frustration) and the fact that Papelbon had already pitched the previous frame, it seemed like manager Matt Williams would give both participants of the melee the rest of the day off, if for no other reason than to cool down.

Harper did indeed hit the showers, but Papelbon didn’t join him. Instead, the 34-year-old reliever came right back to the mound for the ninth to pitch in front of an increasingly hostile crowd. So why did Williams sit his best player, yet let his volatile closer stay in the game?

“At the time it’s a tie game,” Williams explained. “That’s all I’m going to say on the matter. He’s our closer. He’s our closer. In a tie game, he’s in the ballgame in the ninth inning.”

To say the decision backfired on the Nats’ skipper would be an understatement. It not only set up a 12-5 loss, but gave way to one of the ugliest scenes of an already disappointing season. As Papelbon yielded baserunner after baserunner, the crowd of 28,661 hurled boos and other unpleasantries in his direction as he continued to implode. In all, he allowed five runs (two earned) en route to taking the loss in what without question was his worst moment in a Nats uniform.

“I’m never gonna say that because I went out there and gave up some runs that it’s anything other than me not pitching to my capabilities,” Papelbon said of the ninth inning. “I really went out there and didn’t locate [on] my fastball and fell behind on hitters. Any time you do that, the outcome is usually not going to be good. But [the scuffle] didn’t affect how I pitched, no.”


  1. alexva6 - Sep 27, 2015 at 7:22 PM


    • Joe Seamhead - Sep 27, 2015 at 7:29 PM


      We’ve got a winner here!

      alexva6 gets the Post of the Year!

    • golfersal - Sep 27, 2015 at 7:37 PM

      No, he is a Super Moron.
      To think that I pay all of this money for season tickets and this is the best the Lerners can give us.
      Then they raise our tickets prices 32% for next year???

      Guess I am the moron for paying.

      • senators5 - Sep 27, 2015 at 8:02 PM

        I do not think of you or any other season ticket holders as morons. I kinda think of you folks as the providers for us peons who want nothing to do with the largeness of Nationals Park, including traffic messes, metro jamming and $9 beers. So keep getting your tickets and I will keep poor old MASN2, thanks to the goodness of P,A. in his Baltimore high rise(s) Morons you are not, more like Robin Hood providing you us poor folks. Thank you!!

  2. naterialguy - Sep 27, 2015 at 7:26 PM

    Reminds me of Michael Westbrook attacking Stephen Davis. Skins management did nothing about it. I pray the Nats organization shows more class and intelligence.
    At the very least papelbon should be suspended for the remainder of the season.Hopefullyhe is shown the door.

  3. Nats Fan Zee - Sep 27, 2015 at 7:35 PM

    Matt Williams = Robo Manager

  4. stoatva - Sep 27, 2015 at 7:35 PM

    This business about brothers fighting is all nice happy talk, but in this case one brother attacked the other whilst out to dinner at a fancy restaurant on grandma’s birthday.

    Are there consequences or are we just like every other team? When do we start signing jerks coming off PED suspension like our fine feathered friends?

    • janebeard - Sep 27, 2015 at 9:02 PM

      Whomever that PR person was, who told them to call it “brothers fighting” should be fired. Own up to what happened people.

  5. Dave - Sep 27, 2015 at 8:10 PM

    Williams showed himself today to be a complete, blithering idiot. In grunt if TV cameras.

    What a day.

    • Dave - Sep 27, 2015 at 8:14 PM

      In front of cameras. But maybe if he had just grunted instead if talking it would’ve been better.

  6. joemktg - Sep 27, 2015 at 8:14 PM

    MW actually made it a bit easier for the organization to 86 both him and Papelbon. Fan support for both moves probably increased.

  7. Drew - Sep 27, 2015 at 8:20 PM

    Sending Papelbon back to the mound while Harper remained in the clubhouse was inexplicable.

    I would have warmed up Clint Robinson before I would have sanctioned that tailpipe’s behavior.

    • janebeard - Sep 27, 2015 at 9:03 PM

      That’s what our whole section said.

  8. Karl Kolchak - Sep 27, 2015 at 8:20 PM

    Given just how bad the Papelbon trade has turned out in every aspect, I fully expect that Nick Pivetta will no hit the Nats the first time he faces them a couple of years from now and go on to become a key piece of a revitalized young Phillies rotation. Blame MW sure, but the real culprit in this whole disaster is Mike Rizzo.

  9. Mrsb loves the Nats - Sep 27, 2015 at 8:37 PM

    Whether MW is dismissed or not, I hope for significant roster changes for 2016.

    It’s really hard to care about this Nats team right now.

    • janebeard - Sep 27, 2015 at 9:05 PM

      MW let down the 39 other roster players when he sent Pap out with the ball, acting like “boy will be boys.” There should be two lockers cleaned out tomorrow. Lerners, are you listening?

  10. Section 222 - Sep 27, 2015 at 8:50 PM

    Oh man. Robo-manager at his worst. I thought for sure he would say that no one was warmed up so Pap had to go back out. But did he seriously think he was going to pitch well after that melee? Incredible.

    • abqnatsfan - Sep 28, 2015 at 12:33 AM

      After yesterday’s game, MW when asked about the future said “we just have to win tomorrow”. After being eliminated, his answer was the same as all year long. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, but it was a new low, and makes his response today seem less surprising.

      I assume even he knows he is gone now.

  11. RoadApples - Sep 27, 2015 at 9:59 PM

    Buck up Fans:
    Harper should indeed be the MVP of the NL this year.
    He is also a typical porcelain doll.

    • natsguy - Sep 27, 2015 at 11:09 PM

      You are what your posting as.





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