ATLANTA - Well, there we go.
Stephen Strasburg drilled Justin Upton with a first-pitch 97 mph fastball in the backside in the bottom of the first inning, prompting warnings to be issued to both the Nationals and Braves by home plate umpire Marvin Hudson.
The plunking came immediately after Jason Heyward hit a solo shot to right-center on a 3-2 Strasburg pitch. Upton stepped in, turned his back to the Strasburg heater and took it off the left buttocks.
The Braves starting left fielder then quickly trotted to first base.
This comes, of course, after Bryce Harper was drilled three times in the last three games against the Braves, including twice yesterday. The second of those plunkings hit Harper on the left triceps and led to a bruise that knocked him out of today’s starting lineup.
Strasburg delivered the payback that many Nationals fans had been hoping for. He picked Atlanta’s best power hitter, sent a message with a fastball in a safe (read: low) spot, and now this might all be settled for the time being.
After retiring the side in the bottom of the first, Strasburg received fist-pounds and high-fives all around in the Nats dugout. His teammates and coaches certainly appreciated his actions.
Meanwhile, the Nats still have a 2-1 lead after one inning thanks to Wilson Ramos’ two-out, two-run single off Mike Minor.
Up with the bases loaded and two down, Ramos stroked a single to left, bringing in Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth, both of whom had walked.
Update: Strasburg has now been ejected with no outs in the bottom of the second.
After a four-pitch walk to Jordan Schafer to start the inning, Strasburg threw three straight pitches to the backstop with Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons in the batter’s box.
Pitching coach Steve McCatty came out and gave Strasburg a stern talking-to after the first. The next Strasburg pitch went behind Simmons, allowing Schafer to move to third. Strasburg then threw another pitch behind Simmons, and Hudson immediately ejected Strasburg.
Manager Davey Johnson came out to argue, but Hudson wasn’t having any of it. By rule, Johnson is also ejected, because when a pitcher is ejected after warnings have been issued, the manager is tossed, as well.
The Braves all came to the top step of their dugout, but no one came onto the field. Strasburg slowly trudged off, and Tanner Roark now takes over for the Nats with nobody out in the second.
We obviously don’t know whether Strasburg was intentionally trying to hit Simmons there, but it’s fair to note that the Nationals’ right-hander didn’t throw a single strike that inning. He was all over the place, and it’s entirely possible that he just completely lost his control.
Of course, it’s also possible that Strasburg knew exactly what he was doing.
Strasburg’s final line: 1 IP plus 2 batters, 2 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 HR, 3 WP, 26 pitches, 13 strikes.
The Nats have a 4-2 lead as Roark comes on, after Jayson Werth’s two-run single in the top of the second.