The Nationals were officially eliminated from postseason play on Saturday when the Mets beat the Reds in Cincinnati to clinch the NL East title. On Sunday, things in Washington went from bad to worse.
Bryce Harper began exchanging words with Jonathan Papelbon on his way back into the Nationals’ dugout after a lazy flyout to left field in the bottom of the eighth inning. The two then had a physical confrontation, with multiple Nationals players and coaches having to step in to break it up.
Papelbon was the one who made it physical. This picture shows him putting Harper, the soon-to-be NL MVP, into a chokehold …
The full scene, via MLB.com …
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Harper was removed from the 4-4 game by Nationals manager Matt Williams. Papelbon came back out for the top of the ninth after securing the final out in the top of the eighth. He allowed a two-run homer to Andres Blanco in the ninth, giving the last-place Phillies a 6-4 lead at Nationals Park.
On Wednesday, Astros third baseman Alex Bregman was hit by Cardinals pitcher Ramon Santos. It marked the seventh time an Astros batter had been hit in spring training exhibition games thus far, the highest total among all teams. As expected, teams are exacting revenge for the Astros’ cheating ways!
Well, not quite. The pitch Santos hit Bregman with was a 3-2 breaking ball that got away. Usually, if a pitcher is going to hit a batter as an act of revenge, he’ll attempt to do it with a first-pitch fastball.
José Altuve was also hit by a pitch against the Tigers on Sunday. The pitch, which looks to be the off-speed variety, appeared to graze his uniform as opposed to hitting him flush, so it was likely unintentional on the part of pitcher Nick Ramirez.
Other Astros to have been hit in spring training thus far: Alex De Goti, Aledmys Díaz, Osvaldo Duarte, Dustin Garneau, and Jake Meyers. Not exactly a who’s-who list of Code Breaker operatives.
Will some pitchers intentionally throw at the Astros this year? Almost certainly, despite commissioner Rob Manfred’s warning. Have they been doing it from the moment exhibition games began earlier this month? Certainly not.