When Julio Teheran hit Bryce Harper during the last series between the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, the Nats' 20-year-old outfielder directed some strong words towards the mound as he walked to first and the benches and bullpens cleared, but nothing happened in terms of a physical altercation or retaliation. Both teams were warned, and as Nationals' manager Davey Johnson explained the next morning on 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s The Sports Junkies, that pretty much eliminates any opportunity to strike back, especially in a close game.
"It's not the time," the 70-year-old skipper explained, "You're under a warning. Once the warning is out, you're dead in the water." Johnson did say, however, that these things are not forgotten, but filed away. "Things even out over the course of the season," he added, "Or next season." The Braves took all three games of that series for a sweep in the nation's capital and they won their sixth straight overall against the Nationals tonight in Turner Field in Atlanta, and hit Bryce Harper twice on the way to a 3-2 victory that ended with Justin Upton's 10th inning walk-off blast.
Tonight's game was another closely-contested affair between the NL East divisional rivals. There was no retaliation for either the first-pitch curve Braves' lefty Alex Wood hit Harper with in the first at bat of the third or the first-pitch fastball left-hander Luis Avilan hit Harper with in the top of the eighth before Jayson Werth knocked in the tying run to make it a 2-2 game. When Davey Johnson was asked about the two HBPs after the game he said he didn't think either was intentional.
"I hope not, because it's ridiculous in a close ballgame," Johnson told reporters. "And they've got a lot more to lose than we do at this point, and so it would be a ridiculous thing to be doing." He thought the second one, intentional or not, deserved a reaction from home plate umpire Marty Foster, however. "After [Harper] got hit the second time, he should have thrown [Avilan] out of the ballgame and then been done with it. But it's their choice."
Avilan on Harper: "I feel bad for him, especially because I don’t want to hit him in that part of the body. It was a bad day for me."— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) August 17, 2013
"One time he got hit with a breaking ball," the former major leaguer and veteran of 17 seasons on the bench added, "and that's obviously not an attempt to throw at him. And in that situation [the second HBP], they've got their best left-hander out there and for him to hit him in that situation didn't make a whole lot of sense."
Nats' right fielder Jayson Werth, who was 2 for 5 with the game-tying single in the eighth, wasn't interested in discussing the issue of Harper getting hit when he was asked after the Nationals' 62nd loss.
"That's one of those things that we take care of in-house and that's just part of the game," Werth told reporters. "I'm not going to speak publicly about it." Asked if he thought they Braves were doing it on purpose, Werth said, "I couldn't tell you what they're doing."
What Atlanta did was beat Washington for the 11th time in 14 games between the two teams this season, with Upton taking Nats' rookie lefty Ian Krol deep on a hanging-a$$ 2-2 curve in the bottom of the tenth for the walk-off winner in the Braves' home. "Made a bad pitch with a [curve] and left it up on the inside part of the plate and [Upton] crushed it," Davey Johnson said, "He's a pretty good offspeed hitter. Just a bad pitch. Bad location. Still young."
It was the Braves' left fielder's 19th hit in 53 ABs against the Nationals this season and his fourth home run against the Nats in 14 games in his first season with the Braves.
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