All the people yelling about how Bryce Harper didn’t do anything to deserve his drilling from Cole Hamels on Sunday can rest a bit easier. Somebody in baseball finally merited retaliation, and retaliation was delivered.
Speculation begins in the second inning of Monday’s game between Atlanta and the Cubs, when Jason Heyward homered off Jeff Samardzija. Fast forward to the seventh, when, with one out and nobody on, Samardzija hit Heyward with a pitch. The Cubs trailed 2-1 at that point, so it makes sense that it was unintentional. Still, Heyward’s earlier homer raised some doubts, as did the fact that Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson had been hit up near the neck in the third inning by Braves starter Tommy Hanson.
“[Heyward] came out and hit a home run on a ball that was down and away,” Samardzija said in the Chicago Tribune. “[In the seventh] I just thought he was diving over the plate, and I wanted to throw one in there and go back away, but it just got in there too tight.”
No matter; in the bottom of the frame, Braves reliever Eric O’Flaherty drilled David DeJesus in the right tricep. (Watch it all here.)
Ump Chris Conroy quickly warned both benches, then tossed Fredi Gonzalez, after the Atlanta manager came out to discuss the matter.
“I just asked him for an explanation,” said Gonzalez in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I asked him why would you think we’re throwing at people in a one-run game or they’re throwing at people in a one-run game, you know? It’s not like it’s a 10-run game or anything like that. It’s still a helluva game going on, and I’m talking to him like I’m talking to you, and I got thrown out of the game.”
As reasonable as Gonzalez’s explanation may be, Conroy did the right thing. Samardzija’s plunking of the seventh-place hitter in the Atlanta lineup didn’t exactly scream for vengeance, but if vengeance is the stance the Braves wanted to adopt in response, that’s their prerogative. It was indeed a one-run game, but if O’Flaherty did it on purpose, he picked just the right time—with two outs and nobody on base—and he hit DeJesus in nearly the same place as Heyward was drilled.
Ultimately, because none of the pitchers are talking (learn a lesson, Cole Hamels), it will likely end here. One shot, one response, situation over. (Sure enough, the only contentious issue in yesterday’s 3-1 Atlanta victory was between Kerry Wood and his own performance.)
Series finale today, just to make sure.