But the story of the Braves continued win streak was overshadowed by a benches- and bullpen-clearing incident that arose after Nats outfielder Bryce Harper was hit by a pitch in the thigh in the fifth inning.
Harper had blasted a solo home run off of starter Julio Teheran in his previous at-bat, which had Washington convinced that the beaning was intentional. Here’s a clip of what transpired.
As if tension on the field was not high enough, Atlanta stirred the pot off the field immediately after action resumed with a twitter post using a variation of Harper’s famous “That’s a clown question, bro” quote from last season.
Clown move bro
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) August 7, 2013
To which the Nationals official twitter account responded:
@Braves Which part, giving up the home run, or drilling the 20-year-old on the first pitch his next time up?
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 7, 2013
What was the point in rubbing social media salt in an already festering wound, Atlanta? Sure, we expected these two teams to be locked in a tense division crown race, to be bitter rivals especially down the stretch run. But with the way Atlanta has performed, and the way Washington has performed – that simply is not the case. There should be no tension.
With last night’s win, the Braves are 14.5 games ahead of the Nationals in the NL East – a division Washington was expected to win handily this season.
The Nationals entered the year with a tremendous amount of pressure to repeat their success from a season ago and make a push for the World Series. And they’ve faltered under it. Through last night’s game, the Nats are five games under .500 at 54-59, and remain eight games back in the Wild Card standings.
If they even want to flirt with a playoff push, Washington has to win now and win often. I haven’t had time to crunch the exact numbers, but I would expect that they would need to win near 70% of their remaining games to have that chance. That’s a monumental task in the game of baseball.
Facing extreme adverse odds while knowing that they have disappointed this year, the Nationals have to be feeling frustrated. That makes them a powder keg for on-field overreaction, and believe me, the benches clearing incident last night was overreaction (The bean ball was in the leg, there was no real threat whether the pitch was intentional or not).
That’s also why the Braves should be the bigger team and not exacerbate the problem with inflammatory twitter posts that obviously call out the star player on the other team.
That, Atlanta, was a clown move, bro.