Just four pitches after Bryce Harper had connected on a three-run homer.
The home run was only the second home run Alvarez had allowed this season in 15 starts.
Manager Davey Johnson talked about how the dynamics of the game changed a bit when home plate umpire Bill Welke warned both benches for pitching inside in the bottom of the first inning.
Welke warned both sides after Alvarez hit Desmond with a 3-0 pitch right in his back.
Bench coach Randy Knorr was ejected during an ensuing argument because it was Alvarez who threw the pitch and the Nationals had not retaliated.
Nationals center fielder Denard Span explained why his team was upset with the bench warnings.
“(A) 3-0 pitch, (Alvarez) gets very high,” Span said. “The guy has been controlling the ball pretty good. That has happened to us a couple of times this year. You don’t see too many big league pitchers 3-0 miss a spot like that. We obviously didn’t like it. You guys probably saw on camera, some of us were chirping. I just think that 3-0, I don’t know, that is a bad miss right there.”
But when both benches were warned, it was also a moment that could have hurt the Nationals because starter Gio Gonzalez builds his reputation on pitching inside to batters.
“Well, it kind of changes the game,” Desmond explained. “If Gio accidentally hits somebody, you lose your manager and your starting pitcher. But at the same time, if you are pitching in the big leagues you should be able to pitch the ball over the plate, pitch inside effectively without hitting somebody.
“Obviously, I understand that some balls get away. That is kind of what I am talking about if there is an accident. That was pretty early in the game without much history there as far as I know to throw a warning out. But I can understand (the umpires) are in a tough position. They got to protect the players, they got to protect themselves. Obviously, you don’t want it to escalate and people get hurt.”
Gonzalez said he had a quick talk with Welke after the warnings to explain what he wanted to be able to do.
“That is the first thing I said to the umpire, I was like ‘I am working inside, you can’t take that away from me’ “, Gonzalez said. “He said, ‘I know, I understand, you can pitch inside. Let’s make it very clear that’s what it is’. He made it very clear where it was like let’s get this game going.
“This is very important for us. That is why we took it, just try to get that win. Bryce (Harper) came up with that big blast and set the tone right off the bat.”
Desmond did not take the hit-by-pitch personally. He joked maybe it was because there was a full moon.
Did he think Alvarez threw at him intentionally?
“If it was so what, if it wasn’t so what,” Desmond said. “Take my base, helps my on-base percentage.”
Desmond’s thoughts mirror Johnson’s in that this team is still trying to find a way to get into the playoffs. It cannot let anything, even bench warnings for an early hit by pitch, distract them from that goal.