Wire Taps: Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper Gets "Fake-Toughed" By An Ump.

Aug 8, 2012; Houston, TX; USA; Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) argues a called third strike with umpire Angel Hernandez (55) during the fourth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-US PRESSWIRE

• The Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros, 4-3. Gio Gonzalez hit his first career home run and threw a complete game. The Nats won their fifth straight game, their seventh of eight, the fiftteenth of the last twenty and maintained a 4.0 game lead over the Atlanta Braves. But the big story on Thursday morning? Angel Hernandez. MLB's biggest "Look at me!" ump had Bryce Harper fuming last night with his questionable called strikes on the 19-year-old rookie. Harper managed to avoid getting thrown out of the game, but Nats' skipper Davey Johnson told reporters afterwards that for the first time he saw the Nats' 2010 no.1 overall pick bring his frustration to the outfield, where Harper made an ill-advised throw late in the game that could have cost the team. Did Harper have an argument? There are plenty of people asking that question this morning and not many people are coming down on Angel Hernandez's side. [Big surprise, I know, but he was fairly awful.] Lots of evidence below. Links and lots of them, RIGHT NOW!!!:

• THE BIG STORY!!:

• "Angel Hernandez rung Bryce Harper up twice on Wednesday night. Harper didn't get ejected. This is more impressive than you think." - "Angel Hernandez Is Bad, And Bryce Harper's Continued Maturity" - Grant Brisbee, Baseball Nation

• NATS BEAT:

• "Bryce Harper butted heads with home plate umpire Angel Hernandez, who seemed to administer some frontier justice..." - "Baltimore Orioles contending, but also scrambling" - Buster Olney, ESPN [INSIDER'S ONLY]

• "[Bryce] Harper, at the urging of veteran teammate Jayson Werth, declined to comment to reporters who approached after the game." - "Bryce Harper expected to get a day off after butting heads with Angel Hernandez" - Adam Kilgore, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "Adam LaRoche had never seen Bryce Harper react the way he did to Angel Hernandez in the fourth inning Wednesday night." - "Bryce Harper argues with Angel Hernandez, will probably get Thursday off" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "Umpires are a lot like long snappers in football - you only really hear about them when they've made a mistake." - "Nationals Pastime: Talking umpiring and positive signs from Gonzalez" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

via Twitter: MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports): "How many more bad calls by this home plate ump before Davey Johnson loses his cool?"

• "If ever there was a time for Bryce Harper to smash his bat on home plate, that was it." - "Angel Hernandez loves Bryce Harper, you just wouldn't know it from his strike zone" - Nats Enquirer

• "[Drew] Storen has pitched three straight days, by far his biggest test since he returned in mid-July from elbow surgery." - "Drew Storen back to handling a big workload" - Adam Kilgore, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "When friends recently invited us to join them for a weekend at their Bethany Beach, Del., vacation home in late September, I asked my wife, 'Do they get MASN on the TV there?'" - "Nationals wow long-suffering D.C. ball fan" - Dick Heller, Washington Times

• "Davey Johnson asked a lot of Gio Gonzalez last night in Houston. Throw at least seven innings to give an exhausted bullpen a break." - "Gio's statement game" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com

• "[Jordan] Zimmermann was named the NL's Pitcher of the Month in July after going 4-0 in six starts, but his August got off to a shaky start in his last outing." - "Washington Nationals at Houston Astros - August 9, 2012" - James Walker, MLB.com Preview

• "Nationals manager Davey Johnson admits he's a hugger and that he heaped embraces on Gio Gonzalez after his big game Wednesday night." - "Nationals' Gonzalez puts up a complete performance in win vs. Astros" - Kristie Rieken, AP/WashingtonExaminer.com

• "Nationals pitchers, while having the major league lead in ERA, also now lead the bigs or are tied for first in batting average, home runs, hits, extra-base hits and RBI among pitchers." - "Nationals Pastime: The series just keeps getting weirder (Gonzalez carries Nats to 4-3 win)" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com

• "'Shark! Shark! Shark!' They screamed, as they waited for Bernadina to join them after an on-field interview." - "Nats' 'Shark' savors his catch" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "[Kurt] Suzuki noticed a few new developments in his old teammate. [GIo] Gonzalez, he said, had "a lot better command and composure on the mound." - "Gio Gonzalez, Kurt Suzuki reunited with the Nationals" - Adam Kilgore, Nationals Journal - The Washington Post

• "As they will with [Stephen] Strasburg, the Nats grabbed the ball from [Jordan] Zimmermann in late August and told him to take a seat." - "Zimmermann making pitch to be Nationals' No. 1" - Brian McNally, WashingtonExaminer.com

• "Complaining of soreness in his right hip, Chien-Ming Wang was pulled from his Minor League rehab assignment after another rough outing Tuesday night." - "Wang exits rehab outing with hip soreness" - Adam Berry, nationals.com: News

• "Pitching into the ninth inning for the first time in his career, Gonzalez threw a complete game in the 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park." - "Nationals-Astros: Gio Gonzalez pitches complete game, hits first HR in Nats' win" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times

• "The phone in the Washington Nationals’ bullpen at Minute Maid Park rang only once Wednesday night." - "Nationals vs. Astros: Gio Gonzalez holds on for his first complete game of season" - Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post

• "Gio Gonzalez went deep for the first time in two ways Wednesday night." - "Washington Nationals at Houston Astros - August 8, 2012" - Adam Berry, MLB.com WSH Recap

• Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama): "It is important for us to examine our motivation in our day to day life."

• NATS MINORS:

Class-A Short Season Auburn: "It was a five-run seventh inning that did in the Doubledays, one night after Auburn used a three-run seventh to capture a win in the first game of the series." - "Doubledays split series with Jamestown" - Eli Pearlstein, Auburn Doubledays News

Class-A Short Season Auburn: "The Jamestown Jammers batted around and put up five runs in the seventh inning en route to a 10-6 win over the Auburn Doubledays at Falcon Park Wednesday." - "Doubledays fall to Jammers" - Jeremy Houghtaling, The Auburn Citizen

• "Several Single-A Auburn Doubleday players have had great starts to their seasons with five of them being rewarded with invites to the New York-Penn League All-Star Game." - "Five Auburn players invited to NY-Penn All-Star game" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

Class-A Hagerstown: Suns 6, RiverDogs 0 - Matthew Skole - 3 for 5, 2 HR's (27); Taylor Hill - 6.0 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K - Hagerstown Suns Scoreboard

Class-A Potomac: "[Nathan] Karns (8-3) was pulled after two innings giving up five runs with just three earned. He struck out three but didn't help his cause by walking three." - "Sloppy P-Nats Lose 9-2 in Myrtle Beach" - Potomac Nationals News

Double-A Harrisburg: "The Harrisburg Senators were one-hit on Wednesday night in their 6-0 loss at the hands of the Richmond Flying Squirrels." - "Lozada with only Sens Hit in 6-0 Loss" - Terry Byrom, Harrisburg Senators News

Triple-A Syracuse: "Jarrett Hoffpauir's grand slam highlighted the scoring, with Chiefs starter John Lannan striking out a season-high nine batters in the win." - "Chiefs slam Red Sox in 10-2 win" - Syracuse Chiefs News

Triple-A Syracuse: "Line of the Day: John Lannan, SP - 8 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K, 1 HR, 5.03 Season ERA, 7-10" - "Chiefs roll in strong Lannan start" - Ben Meyers, The Auburn Citizen

• "[Tony] Beasley believes [Chris] Marrero could go on a rehab assignment today or tomorrow and be back in the Syracuse lineup as early as August 14 or 15." - "Chris Marrero could return to Syracuse lineup in one week (updated)" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com

• "Thursday’s News & Notes" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com

• NATSTOWN:

• "Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner wrote on his blog about the emotions of a pennant race, joking that 'my early impression is that it is equal parts pleasure and agony.'" - "Washington Nationals fans begin to ask: Could this be our year?" - Dan Steinberg, The Washington Post

• "A few minutes later, unprompted, Millar started talking about the Strasburg Shutdown Strategy." - "Kevin Millar, Dick Vitale on the Strasburg Shutdown" - Dan Steinberg, DC Sports Bog - The Washington Post

• "Chien-Ming Wang’s latest (and last) rehab start in Harrisburg ended with him "complaining of soreness in his right hip" and being pulled after the latest of his ineffective starts for AA Harrisburg." - "Wang gets stay of execution with latest 'injury'" - Todd Boss, Nationals Arm Race

• "Michael Morse‘s single in the top of the 3rd inning last night at Minute Maid Park in Houston extended his current hit streak to 17 games. During the 17 game hit streak Morse has gone 23 for 73 for a .315 batting average." - "Michael Morse is Very Close to Joining Prestigious List" - Mark Hornbaker, D.C. Baseball History

• "On paper, the National League East consists of five teams, but when it comes to postseason significance, there are really only two." - "The Two-Team NL East" - Erin Flynn, The Nats Blog

• "Touched by an Angel" - Ouij, Natstradamus

• "What's gone wrong with Bryce? It's hard to say. Sure he's striking out a bit more now than in May, but he struck out the most in June and that month was ok." - "A day off for Bryce" - Harper, Nationals Baseball

• "The Shark Speaks" - Sharkadina

• NL EAST UPDATES:

Mets: "The Mets need to use the rest of the year to find out what they really have in guys such as Jordany Valdespin and Mike Baxter, who started in left and right field, respectively, Wednesday night." - "Time for NY Mets manager Terry Collins and GM Sandy Alderson to start preparing for 2013 season" - Anthony McCarron, NY Daily News

Braves: "Since the Braves left Washington on the night of July 22 and headed for Miami, they’ve won 11 out of 15 games. Not bad, right? Except when you consider the Nationals have won 12 out of 16 games since then..." - "Nats not giving up any ground in NL East" - Carroll Rogers, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Marlins: "When it comes to home runs, Giancarlo Stanton hits them high and he hits them hard." - "NEW YORK: Giancarlo Stanton leads Miami Marlins in 13-0 rout of New York Mets" - Clark Spencer, MiamiHerald.com

Phillies: "Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies Pitcher, discusses Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino, and Cliff Lee, on "Power Alley" with Jody McDonald and Fred McGriff, on MLB Network Radio." - "Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies Pitcher, discusses Pence, Victorino, and Cliff Lee, on MLB Network Radio." - SiriusXM Sports

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