Bryce Harper was unavailable tonight after getting hit by two pitches in last night's series opener with the Atlanta Braves, and the Washington Nationals were reportedly not happy once they learned they would have to scratch their 20-year-old left fielder. With the baseball world watching the see if the Nats would respond, Stephen Strasburg took the mound with a 2-0 lead after a half of an inning in the second game of three in Atlanta, Georgia's Turner Field. Here's what happened next:
"Stephen Strasburg took the mound with a streak of eleven scoreless innings of work going back through his complete game against the Phillies to the last start against Atlanta when he worked two scoreless after giving up one of the two runs he surrendered that night in the fifth inning. That streak ended in the first at bat when Jason Heyward sent a first-pitch fastball screaming out to right for a no-doubter of a line drive home run that cut the Nats' lead in half. 2-1 Nationals. Strasburg hit Justin Upton in the backside with the next pitch he threw. No drama ensued as the Braves' outfielder took his base. Strasburg struck Freddie Freeman out and after a Brian McCann single, got an inning-ending 4-6-3 on his 19th pitch."
Over with right? Handled professionally. No response from Upton. So move on, right? The Nationals took a 4-1 lead after two innings in the Braves' home, then things got weird in the bottom of the second:
"Strasburg walked Jordan Schafer in the first at bat of the Braves' second, then threw three straight wild pitches, the second and third behind Andrelton Simmons, bringing Schafer around to score and getting himself and Nats' manager Davey Johnson tossed in the process."
• HERE'S A LINK TO THE VIDEO... No embed code yet, sorry.
Home plate umpire Marvin Hudson tossed Strasburg and Johnson went as well since warnings had been issued. All of a sudden, Davey Johnson's postgame comments from last night and pregame comments from tonight seemed to have different meaning. When he was asked if he thought the HBPs on Harper were intentional last night, Johnson said he hoped that they weren't, because he thought it would be ridiculous if they were. "And they've got a lot more to lose than we do at this point," Johnson added, "and so it would be a ridiculous thing to be doing."
When he learned that Harper was scratched, he talked to reporters about the team being unhappy:
Bryce Harper scratched with left triceps bruise from where Avilan hit him last night.— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) August 17, 2013
Davey on Harper now missing game because of HBP: "I'm not happy about it and I know everyone in [clubhouse] isn't happy about it."— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) August 17, 2013
That said, Davey insists if Nats were to retaliate, it won't be on his orders.— Mark Zuckerman (@ZuckermanCSN) August 17, 2013
Davey: "I've never order a pitcher to go after anybody, but we have a way to protect our own."— Amanda Comak (@acomak) August 17, 2013
So the Upton HBP was clearly intentional. Did Strasburg suddenly forget where the plate was against Andrelton Simmons? Or was the Nats' 25-year-old right-hander going to go blow for blow and hit two or three Braves? The Atlanta broadcast team noted that Strasburg didn't put up much of an argument, but Davey Johnson did in spite of the fact that his ejection was automatic. Craziness going on in Turner Field... 4-2 Nationals after two...
More from Federal Baseball:
- Nationals' OF Bryce Harper Scratched From Tonight's Game After HBPs Friday vs The Braves
- Nationals Place Taylor Jordan On 15-Day DL, Recall OF/1B Tyler Moore From Triple-A
- Nationals Now 3-11 vs The Braves In 2013; Davey Johnson And Jayson Werth On Nats' Frustration
- Braves 3-2 Over Nationals: Davey Johnson On Braves Hitting Bryce Harper + More
- Game 121 WPA: ATL fans = Filly fans. Nats 2, RFB 3