For two teams that aren't in the same division - and that have managers who profess a great deal of mutual respect for one another - the Nationals and Cardinals sure got on each other's nerves over the weekend. There was Thursday's 13-inning game, where Drew Storen drilled St. Louis outfielder Matt Holliday with a pitch on the left wrist. And on Saturday, Nyjer Morgan went out of his way to railroad Cardinals catcher Bryan Anderson, an act that Nationals manager Jim Riggleman called "totally inexcusable" and suspected Morgan did because he was upset about hitting eighth that night.
Before Sunday's game, crew chief Joe West pulled Riggleman and Cardinals manager Tony La Russa into his office to discuss the ending of Saturday's game (Morgan's collision with Anderson, which caused him to miss home plate and be called out when Ivan Rodriguez pushed him back toward home). West let both teams know that his crew would be on the lookout for any escalating tensions between the two teams.
So when Storen threw behind Holliday on Sunday, after he'd already hit him in the series, things got testy. Holliday threw his arms up and stared down Storen at the mound, and home-plate umpire Rob Drake warned both benches.
"It appeared that (Tony) felt there was some intent there, that if you're looking for that before the game, there is," Riggleman said. "But clearly, there was no intent. It was a terrible pitch. We're winning the game four to one, and certainly we don't want to be hitting anybody, getting anybody on base, get a rally started. But after what happened last night, you see where it's coming from."
La Russa came out for a lengthy argument with the umpires, while Storen stood on the mound on a hot Sunday afternoon. That's the part, more than anything, that bothered Riggleman.
"I don't know if it's (to) rile up (Storen), but I know it got to the point where I didn't like him standing on the mound as long as he was," Riggleman said. "I felt like, pretty soon here, we've got to invoke the rule where if it doesn't get going pretty quick here, you just say, 'OK, you've got 20 seconds.' And if he's not in the box it's a strike. You don't want your guy standing out there that long. He'd already pitched a third (of an inning), come in and sat down, and is now going back out."
Storen said the extended pause didn't bother him and stressed after the game he wasn't trying to hit Holliday. But he understood where the warning came from, given the fact he'd hit Holliday on Thursday and drilled Ryan Ludwick with a pitch in his first career outing in St. Louis on May 17.
It's too bad, though, the Nationals and Cardinals don't play again this year. We could have been in line for some more fun. Alas...