Just two innings after Bryce Harper homered off of Braves pitcher Julio Teheran, Harper was beaned in the leg by the Braves right-hander. Harper proceeded to toss his bat to the side, exchange words with Teheran and benches and bullpens cleared. No punches were thrown, and nobody was ejected.
While the emotion can be perceived as a Nationals team that is finally beginning to find a spark, that isn’t at all true. What it could mean is that this team is starting to get fed up with things. Usually, you don’t see a team get that heated after having its star player get beaned, even if it could have been intentional.
After the way the Nationals spoiled any and all chances at defeating the Braves, they should be fed up and frustrated. The Nationals were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, including a bases-loaded, two-out opportunity that was spoiled by an Adam LaRoche ground out in the bottom of the seventh inning.
That all but sealed the Atlanta victory as Braves relievers Jordan Walden and closer Craig Kimbrel struck out six straight Nats to end the game.
It was an awful night offensively. Of the 11 batters that made a plate appearance for the Nationals, nine of them struck out including Harper, who struck out twice, the second time ending the game. Ryan Zimmerman, who still went 0-for-4, and Scott Hairston were the only Nationals that didn’t get K’d.
Tuesday night’s debacle is just another page in the sad story that is the 2013 Nationals. They now fall 14.5 games behind the Braves in the NL East and have lost five straight games to the Braves at Nats Park.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen some sort of emotion from Harper. Last week, Harper seemingly called out the whole team when he told reporters that, “You got to play with heart. You got to play as a family. Everybody’s got to want it, starting with the manager on down – everybody.”
Harper is single-handedly trying to keep the Nationals afloat. While the rest of the lineup appears flat and is just plain awful, Harper continues to show the effort that you would expect from a playoff team. Usually, it’s the veterans that are trying to teach the young guys a thing or two about effort and emotion. In D.C., the rest of the lineup could learn a thing or two about heart from the 20-year-old phenom in left field.