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Cubs, Nationals In Bench-Clearing Incidents (Oh. Yes. Cubs Lose)

Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals third base coach Bo Porter has words with the Chicago Cubs bench at Nationals Park. Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals third base coach Bo Porter has words with the Chicago Cubs bench at Nationals Park. Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE

If you skipped watching Thursday night's 9-2 Cubs loss to the Nationals, thinking you weren't going to miss anything but another Cubs defeat, think again.

The teams had two bench-clearing incidents, at least the first of which (in my opinion) was not handled well by the umpiring crew.

The first one happened in the fifth inning. Cubs bench coach Jamie Quirk got into a shouting match with Nats third base coach Bo Porter (who, incidentally, was originally drafted by the Cubs and played a few games for them in 1999). Porter left the coaches' box and walked over to the Cubs dugout, at one point having to be pushed back by Dale Sveum. This is a distinct no-no, yet it was Quirk who got tossed, not Porter.

The typical scene of players walking out of dugouts, with pitchers rushing in from bullpens, occurred. The game was delayed briefly; no one was hurt. Would there be another incident? Turned out the answer to that question was "Yes."

In the sixth inning, Lendy Castillo threw at Bryce Harper. Now, I could be disingenuous and say, "Lendy's just wild! He couldn't plan to throw at anyone!" But that wouldn't be true. It was clearly a purpose pitch, not really aimed at any part of Harper's body, but it pushed him off the plate. Steve Clevenger made no attempt to move to catch it; Bob Brenly said on the telecast, "At least he has to pretend!"

Bullpen pitchers rush in again; for some it was the best workout they had all night. This time, a few pushes and shoves and half-hearted punches were thrown. By the end of the mess, Clevenger and Manuel Corpas and the Nats' Michael Gonzalez were all thrown out of the game. (Incidentally, Dale, since the score was already 7-2, maybe this would have been the time to let Anthony Recker catch the rest of the game, since you were supposedly giving Welington Castillo the night off.)

The whole series had to be frustrating for the Cubs, who wound up getting outscored 31-9. That's the equivalent of losing all four games 8-2. The Nats right now are the big boys of the league; they very well might wind up in the World Series. The Cubs are about as far from there as they've been in decades. I won't try to place blame here, except to say that Bo Porter had no business being where he was being and he should have been tossed along with Quirk.

It was the final meeting of the year between the two teams. Will there be bad blood when they next meet in 2013?

Oh, yes. There was a game, too. The Nats hit two more home runs off Cubs pitching; that gave them 15 in all in the series. (Comparison point: the Cubs had allowed 16 home runs in the 13 previous games before coming to Washington.) Anthony Rizzo homered for the second game in a row, giving him 12 for the year. Just two Cubs -- Alfonso Soriano and Bryan LaHair (hey -- remember him? He had exactly one at-bat in the series) have more than that.

The Cubs move on to Pittsburgh for a three-game series that begins Friday night. The Cubs are 17-52 on the road and are 1-16 away from Wrigley since August 1. The Pirates are 42-27 at home -- one of the top home marks in the National League -- and are 4-2 against the Cubs in Pittsburgh this year. This will likely not end well.