Although the Washington Nationals are hardly considered perennial contenders, Davey Johnson will be joining a winner.
Johnson takes over the managerial reigns for a Nationals team hoping to move a season-best three games over .500 in Monday’s series opener against the Los Angeles Angels in Southern California.
Prior to Sunday’s 2-1 win over the Chicago White Sox, Washington general manager Mike Rizzo announced Johnson, who had been a senior adviser with the team, would take over as the team’s new skipper.
The 68-year-old Johnson will be the Nationals’ third manager in five games following the abrupt resignation of Jim Riggleman on Thursday and John McLaren’s short stint as interim manager for the weekend series in Chicago.
“Davey’s a perfect fit for this job at this particular time,” Rizzo said. “He’s a guy with a track record that’s beyond reproach. He knows the system, he knows the staff, he knows the major league club and he’s a terrific baseball guy and a proven winning manager.”
This will be Johnson’s first managerial job since leading the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2000. He also managed the Mets, Reds and Orioles over 14 seasons and Team USA in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and 2008 Olympics. He led the Mets to the 1986 World Series title, and 11 of his teams finished first or second.
Thanks to a surprising run, the Nationals (40-38) are in third place in the NL East, 8 1/2 games back of division-leading Philadelphia and 3 1/2 behind Atlanta.
Washington has won 13 of 15 to move two games over .500. This is the latest into the season the Nationals have been at least two games over the break-even mark since June 2005, their first season in Washington.
Espinosa hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning Sunday, and is batting .373 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in his last 12 games.
Lannan is 3-0 with a 1.15 ERA in his last six starts, shaving 1.63 off his ERA. Against Seattle on Wednesday, the left-hander gave up a run and three hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 2-1 victory.
Lannan, who has recorded a 10.45 ERA in losing his last two starts in AL parks, will make his first appearance against the Angels.
Los Angeles (39-40) is coming off a 3-2 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday, the final contest of a 12-game road trip. The Angels were in position to win their fourth straight and finish the trip 9-3 but closer Jordan Walden(notes) gave up two runs in the ninth.
In Florida on Tuesday, Santana gave up two runs and five hits while striking out six in a 5-2 defeat. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the top of the sixth trailing 2-0.
Santana can’t entirely be blamed for his slide, as his offense has backed him with three total runs of support. In his eight losses on the season, the right-hander has received five runs of support.
“I don’t have control over that,” Santana told the Angels’ official website. “I just do what I can to keep my team in the ballgame.”
Santana has recorded a 3.65 ERA without a decision in two starts against the Nationals, last facing them in 2008.
The Angels are 5-4 all-time against the Washington franchise, and this will be the first meeting in Anaheim since 2005.