Things got interesting in the bottom of the fifth inning, when benches cleared following Bryce Harper being drilled by a first-pitch, 94 mph fastball from Braves righty Julio Teheran.
Harper took exception to the hit-by-pitch, which he clearly felt was intentional following his home run off Teheran in the third inning. Harper took a couple of steps toward the mound and gestured at Teheran, but was moved down the first base line by home plate umpire Joe West.
Braves catcher Brian McCann got a bit heated and started yelling at Harper, and the benches and bullpens both emptied.
There was very little contact between Nationals and Braves players and staffers, with everyone mostly sticking in their own groups and doing some shouting back and forth. But players on each side were fired up.
There were no ejections on either team.
On Harper’s homer in the third, he watched the ball fly out to center for a couple of seconds and then flipped his bat, but it didn’t seem like anything egregious. Justin Upton pulled a similar move last night after his go-ahead homer in the eighth inning.
We’ll see whether anything else comes of this the rest of this series. The Nats could use something to fire them up and get them going, and you never know, this might do the trick.
The two teams then got into things a few minutes after the incident on social media, with the Braves’ official team Twitter account sending a message that said, “Clown move bro.”
The Nationals’ Twitter account then replied with the following: “Which part, giving up the home run, or drilling the 20-year-old on the first pitch his next time up?”
Ah, this is fun.
Update: Gio Gonzalez is done after seven strong innings, having allowed just two runs.
He’s in line for the loss.
The Nats trail 2-1 as we go to the eighth after leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, marking another wasted opportunity.
With two outs, Harper got something going with a single to center, and the Nats then got a break when Braves third baseman Chris Johnson committed a throwing error to let Ryan Zimmerman reach and keep the inning alive. A Jayson Werth walk followed, loading the bases for Adam LaRoche.
Facing left-hander Luis Avilan, LaRoche worked the count to 2-0, and the Nats Park crowd came to its collective feet and got as loud as it has in quite a while. LaRoche then harmlessly bounced out to first, ending the inning.
The Nats are now 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position tonight and have stranded nine.
The bats have failed them again tonight.
Update II: Jordan Walden struck out the side for the Braves in the eighth and Craig Kimbrel did the same in the ninth, closing out a 2-1 Atlanta win.
The Nats drop to five games under .500 at 54-59 and are now 14 1/2 back of Atlanta in the National League East. The Braves, on the other hand, have won 12 straight.
This marks the 31st time in 113 games this season (27 percent) the Nats have scored one or zero runs in a game.