ATLANTA - Through a team spokesman, Bryce Harper declined to talk to reporters after tonight’s 3-2 loss to the Braves.
When it came to the topic of Harper twice getting hit by Braves pitchers tonight, his teammates weren’t willing to say all that much, either.
“You know, that’s one of those things we take care of in-house,” Jayson Werth said. “That’s just part of the game. I’m not going to speak publicly about it.”
Harper was hit by an Alex Wood curveball in the fourth inning and a Luis Avilan fastball in the eighth. Both times, Braves fans cheered after Harper was hit, and after the second hit-by-pitch, home plate umpire Marty Foster issued warnings to both teams.
Nationals players were clearly frustrated by the continued plunkings of Harper by Braves pitchers, something that goes back a week and a half, when Julio Teheran drilled Harper with a fastball after Harper had homered off him in his previous at-bat.
After tonight’s game, Werth, Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond sat in a row in front of their lockers for at least 20 minutes, quietly talking amongst themselves. Asked if he thought Harper was intentionally hit by Avilan in the eighth, Werth said he wasn’t sure.
“I couldn’t tell you what they’re doing,” he said.
What’s going through a pitcher’s mind after he sees one of his star position players get drilled three times in a two-game span against one team? Ian Krol, who came in to work the bottom of the 10th and ended up giving up a walk-off homer to Justin Upton, was asked that question.
“We like to play civilized,” Krol said. “We don’t like to cheap-shot anybody. We go out there and work out tails off. Hopefully the outcome of the game goes our way.”
Taylor Jordan, the rookie who went six innings and was on the mound after Harper was hit in the fourth, said retaliation didn’t enter his mind.
“You know, I haven’t really been up here long enough to even strike (back) like that,” Jordan said. “So, no.”
Krol calmly spoke with reporters after yet another disappointing outing, in which he was brought on to try and extend the game and push it to the 11th but saw Upton club a 2-2 curveball over the left field wall for the game-winner.
“Threw a curveball. Belt high. Down the middle,” Krol said. “Last time I made an appearance, it was the Giants. 2-2 count. Threw (Brandon Belt) a fastball up and in and he hit a home run off it. My gut was telling me on that pitch to throw a curveball so I went with it. ... The selection I thought was there. I thought that’s what the right pitch was but it was not in right placement. At all.”
In hindsight, some might suggest that it would be better to walk Upton to get to the two left-handers (Freddie Freeman and Brian McCann) behind him, giving Krol the more favorable lefty-lefty matchup.
“I’ve told you guys this a million times - I like to go after batters,” Krol said. “(Upton is) one of the hottest hitters in the league right now. Probably would have been a smart thing to pitch around him. That’s what happens with mistakes.”
The Nats are now 3-11 against the Braves this season and have won just one of their 13 games against above-.500 teams since the All-Star break.
“It’s not easy losing. That’s for sure,” Werth said. “It’s kind of been the story of the year so far. We just play good enough to lose.
“They’ve played pretty good from start to finish and we haven’t. That’s really the story of the season so far.”