Cubs swept away by Nationals in fight-filled game
BY GORDON WITTENMYER email@example.com September 7, 2012 12:36AM
Umpires try to restore order during the sixth inning when both benches and bullpens emptied onto the field of a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, in Washington. The Nationals won 9-2. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Updated: October 9, 2012 2:58PM
WASHINGTON — It’s probably not going to help them avoid their first 100-loss season in Theo Epstein’s lifetime, but the fight the Cubs showed in Thursday’s 70-man scuffle with the Washington Nationals was a significant step in the growing process for the young team, said some of the clubhouse elders.
Not that the Nationals saw it that way after bench coach Jamie Quirk got ejected for yelling at Nats third-base coach Bo Porter in the fifth inning for stealing bases and swinging at a 3-0 pitch with a big lead, or after Lendy Castillo just missed Bryce Harper with a first-pitch fastball leading off the sixth.
‘‘I think I’d be pretty pissed off if I was getting my teeth kicked in all week, too,’’ said 19-year-old lightning-rod phenom Harper. ‘‘But you can’t lay down [even with a lead].’’
The Cubs didn’t have much consolation to take from a four-game beat-down that included 15 Nationals home runs and a 31-9 scoring deficit, including a 9-2 loss Thursday. But they said they weren’t about to lay down, either.
‘‘When you have circumstances like that, you can take it like that — for yourselves to know that we’re not going to let guys run over us,’’ starter Justin Germano said. ‘‘And if we’ve got to make them uncomfortable in the box, then that’s what we’ve got to do — not totally going after somebody but just trying to make them aware not to be uncomfortable.’’
The Nationals led 7-2 in the fifth inning when Quirk reached his boiling point. Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa each stole a base before Jayson Werth swung at a 3-0 pitch from Rule 5 rookie Castillo with the bases loaded.
Quirk went off, and during a timeout for Clevenger to get a new mitt after his webbing broke, Porter stalked to the Cubs’ dugout to confront him — resulting in the benches and bullpens clearing.
Quick, who declined to comment until talking with league officials, was ejected while Porter was allowed to stay in the game.
‘‘The obscenities that [Quirk] screamed out, I just felt was inappropriate and that’s what caused everything,’’ umpire crew chief Jerry Layne said. ‘‘The reason he was ejected was he was the cause.’’
The real shoving match erupted in the sixth when Castillo appeared to retaliate against Harper — with Clevenger shoving Michael Morse and appearing to take a swipe at Desmond.
Clevenger, reliever Manny Corpas and Nationals reliever Michael Gonzalez all were ejected.
‘‘I was in the middle with everybody, trying to break everybody up,’’ Clevenger said. ‘‘You’re up 7-2, Lendy Castillo is pitching, it’s 3-0. You don’t swing 3-0 in that situation. But things happen.’’
‘‘That’s what happens when frustrations get to a boiling point,’’ said manager Dale Sveum, who denied any intention on Castillo’s pitch.
‘‘It’s probably one of the biggest butt whuppings I’ve ever gotten in my career,’’ he said of this series, ‘‘as a coach or player.’’