Washington Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr said he was “proud” of pitcher Stephen Strasburg for hitting Justin Upton during the team’s game against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.
The Braves and Nats have had a beef going this season, mostly revolving around Bryce Harper. Harper has been hit by a pitch four times this year, three coming from the Braves. Earlier this month, benches cleared when Julio Teheran hit Harper for admiring a home run hit earlier in the game. Atlanta decided to give Harper the same treatment when the teams met on Friday for the first of a three-game series.
The Braves hit Harper twice on Friday. The first hit by pitch came on a curveball by Alex Wood in the fourth. The second came on a fastball from Luis Avilan in the eighth. Avilan hit Harper in the back, leaving the Nats outfielder with a bruise that kept him out of Saturday’s game. Neither pitcher was ejected for dosing Harper, and the Braves won the game 3-2 on a solo home run by Justin Upton in the 10th.
On Saturday, Strasburg gave up a leadoff home run to Jason Heyward in the first and then hit Upton on the first pitch. Upton took his base without incident, but Strasburg was warned for hitting Upton. The next inning, Strasburg got wild. He walked Jordan Schafer to start the inning, and then he threw three straight wild pitches while facing Andrelton Simmons. The first wild pitch was a slider outside and in the dirt. The next two were fastballs that badly missed behind Simmons. Home plate umpire Marvin Hudson ejected Strasburg for throwing behind Simmons, and manager Davey Johnson was also tossed.
Though Strasburg may not have deserved an ejection when he probably was just unintentionally wild, he did appear to hit Upton on purpose to settle the score regarding Harper. Knorr said he would be proud of Strasburg for doing that.
“They hit Harper quite a bit. You know? I don’t know if somebody said something or if he just decided to do it on his own. If he decided to do it on his own, I’m proud of him,” Knorr said after Saturday’s game with a casual shrug.
The Braves won the rubber match between the teams on Sunday. Harper went 2-for-4 with a walk. Upton did not play.