The game was on pace to be different from the beginning. In the top of the second, Braves pitcher Mike Minor was replaced by Anthony Varvaro. Going into the bottom of the second, the Washington Nationals had a 4-1 lead.
Nats pitcher Stephen Strasburg hit Justin Upton in the bottom of the first. When the bottom of the second rolled around, Strasburg was ejected after he threw three wild pitches to Andrelton Simmons. Manager Davey Johnson was ejected along with him.
Strasburg getting ejected was something that’s never happened in his career. Johnson said he did not believe Strasburg was trying to intentionally hit Simmons, he just couldn’t find the strike zone.
What the real issue could be here is what happened later during Friday night’s game. Bryce Harper was hit twice during the game and the umpire only issued warnings to both teams. The result? Harper was unable to start Saturday night’s game. Strasburg did not comment when asked if hitting Upton was intentional.
The race for the NL East is usually a tight one, primarily between the Nationals and Braves. But with this year’s disappointing season for the Nats, it seems that the Braves has the division in the bag. That’s not going to stop these two teams from disliking each other, however. It may not be a Yankees Red Sox rivalry, but the two teams will never like each other.
Looking at Harper getting hit twice on Friday as a Nationals fan, you immediately assume it was done on purpose. Tension was still running high when Saturday’s game started. Strasburg hitting Upton, arguably Atlanta’s best player, made the tension start bubbling over. Then Strasburg throws three wild pitches and the tension explodes.
But it doesn’t seem fair: Harper gets hit twice, gets hurt and has to sit Saturday’s game, yet nothing happens; umpires only issue warnings. But Strasburg throws three wild pitches the inning after hitting one player and he gets tossed out? It’s completely understandable why Johnson and Nationals fans were and still are upset.
Despite losing their starting pitcher and manager, it seemed like the Nationals held the momentum for the rest of the game. They held a 7-5 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. Rafael Soriano comes on to record the save, but the game was sent into extra innings when Jason Heyward hit a two-run home run to tie the game.
The game ended up lasting 15 innings. Adam LaRoche hit the game deciding home run in the top of the inning. With the entire bullpen used, Tuesday’s starter Dan Haren came on and recorded the save. His efforts saved a position player from having to come in and it was his first career save.
This drama filled game will certainly be one fans remember for a long time. It also has gone down as the longest game in Nationals history, lasting five hours and 29 minutes.