Washington Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg and manager Davey Johnson were ejected from Saturday night’s game against the Braves after Strasburg threw back-to-back pitches behind Andrelton Simmons’ back.
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Both benches received warnings from home-plate umpire Marvin Hudson after Strasburg hit Justin Upton with a pitch in the first inning. Upton was hit one pitch after Atlanta’s Jason Heyward hit a home run.
Upton, hit on his backside, immediately ran to first base.
Asked if he meant to hit Upton, Strasburg said ”I’m not going to get into that.”
But the answer seemed clear.
”Well after somebody goes deep and you hit him in the rear end, I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Johnson said. ”I don’t know if he did it on purpose or not.”
The second-inning meltdown by Strasburg was more difficult to figure out.
With Washington leading 4-1, Strasburg walked Jordan Schafer to lead off the second before throwing the pitches behind Simmons. Hudson ejected Strasburg and also tossed Johnson when he came out to argue.
The Nationals insisted Strasburg wasn’t trying to hit Simmons, but instead was unable to regain his control after walking Jordan Schafer on four pitches to open the second.
”He’s still kind of learning to deal with the adversities of pitching up here,” Johnson said. ”When he went back out in the second inning, I’ve never seen his command so bad. He couldn’t come close to the first hitter he faced. Then he threw a curve ball that was eight feet outside and then a couple balls that were behind the hitter. It didn’t look like he was trying to hit (Simmons). He couldn’t find the strike zone.”
Entering the game, Strasburg had thrown three wild pitches in 146 1/3 innings. He doubled that total by unleashing three consecutive wild pitches, including the two behind Simmons’ back.
When Johnson and Strasburg were in the clubhouse after being tossed, Johnson said he immediately sought to find out if his ace was hurt.
”The first thing I said when we were both in here was `Are you hurt? Is something wrong with you?”’ Johnson said. ”He said `No. I’m just out of sorts.”’
The Nationals loaded the bases and scored two runs in each of the first two innings. On a night when the game-time temperature was 66 degrees, Strasburg said he ”just got a little cold. I was just missing spots.”
Asked if it was a mechanical problem, Strasburg said ”I can’t really explain it. I just didn’t really feel good out there and couldn’t hit the spot.”
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said it was ”just weird” to see Strasburg’s suddenly unable to throw strikes. He said he didn’t think Strasburg was trying to hit Simmons.
”I don’t know if there’s something wrong with him physically, because it just didn’t look right,” Gonzalez said. ”It didn’t look right.”
Washington’s Bryce Harper was hit by two pitches in the Braves’ 3-2 win in 10 innings on Friday night. Harper was held out Saturday with bruised triceps.
The Nationals won 8-7 on Adam LaRoche’s 15th-inning homer.