Sunday night's baseball game between the Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies was a highly charged one, and flamed the fire of a growing baseball rivalry.
A night that ended with Phillies' starting pitcher Cole Hamels being suspended for five games.
The game kicked off with Hamels pegging outfielder Bryce Harper with a pitch in the back during the rookie's first time at bat. Hamels later admitted he did it on purpose.
According to MASN, Hamels confirmed to the media he nailed a 93-mph pitch at Harper.
"I was trying to hit him. I'm not going to deny it," Hamels had said.
Now he's been suspended by Major League Baseball. Hamels is benched for five games, reported the Chicago Tribune. He was also reportedly fined.
"You know what, it's something that I grew up watching," Hamels went on to say at the time of admission to reporters, "That's what happened, so I'm just trying to continue the old baseball ... I think some people kind of get away from it. Sometimes the league is protecting certain players and making it not that old-school, prestigious way of baseball. I'm not going to injure a guy."
The pitcher further elaborated that he's not going to be liked for what he did, but he wasn't about to lie and deny it. "I think they understood the message and they threw it right back. That's the way, and I respect it. They can say whatever they want," Hamels said. "Welcome to the Big Leagues," was a part of his rationale to hit Harper.
While Hamels freely admitted his intention to hit Harper, he drew the line at sharing when he made the decision to do it. After getting hit, Harper took his base and moved to third base. Harper repaid Hamels by successfully stealing home plate.
Bryce Harper was recently called up from the minor leagues and is a starter with the Washington Nationals
What was Harper's reaction to being hit?
"Props to him," Harper said of Hamels. "He came out there and really threw the ball well and there was nothing we could do about it." Harper referred to the Phillies' pitcher as a "great guy, great pitcher and knows how to pitch. He's an All-Star. It's all good."
Nats' starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann had hit Hamels later in the game, but claims it was not intentional. "I was trying to go away and just cut a fastball really, really bad and unfortunately hit him in the knee," Zimmermann said, reported MASN.
General Manager of the Nationals, Mike Rizzo had some harsh words about Hamels. The Washington Post reports the GM said:
“Players take care of themselves. I’ve never seen a more classless, gutless chicken [bleep] act in my 30 years in baseball. Cole Hamels says he’s old school? He’s the polar opposite of old school. He’s fake tough. He thinks he’s going to intimidate us after hitting our 19-year-old rookie who’s eight games into the big leagues? He doesn’t know who he’s dealing with.”
The Tribune had noted Phillies' general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. reaction to Hamels' actions.
“Obviously that’s not what we’re about,” Amaro said. “We’re not about trying to injure people. Things that happen in the game happen in the game. Those are parts of the game. But as far as how the Phillies want to conduct themselves, we try to take the high road on things. By no means are we condoning this. We fully support what the commissioner’s office has decided to do.”
Amaro had reportedly brushed off Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo's comments. He also noted Hamels should have been more discreet and let the issue be settled on the field.
The growing rivalry between the two National League teams is on, being kicked up another notch by last Sunday's game. The Nationals' recent "Take back the park" and "Natitude" marketing campaign aimed at the Phillies and its fans had also created ire.
In an unfortunate incident during the same baseball game, Nats' right fielder Jayson Werth broke his wrist. Yesterday, Digital Journal reported Werth would be out on the disabled list for "months" because of his injury. He had surgery yesterday, reported the Post.
Werth, a former Phillies player, is motivated to heal quickly, angered by the taunting he received after his 6th inning injury last Sunday.
“After walking off the field feeling nauseous knowing my wrist was broke and hearing Philly fans yelling ‘You deserve it,’ and, ‘That’s what you get,’ I am motivated to get back quickly and see to it personally those people never walk down Broad Street in celebration again,” Werth wrote in an email to the Post.
The Phillies and Nationals will be playing one another again soon, this time in Philadelphia. That series kicks off May 21.
Hamels' suspension had started last night. He's expected to likely be back on the mound on Sunday.