In the aftermath of the Nationals’ 9-2 victory over the Cubs, there was a lot said about the two bench-clearing incidents. There was so much that plenty of it didn’t make it into the game story that tried to make sense of all of the hostilities.
So without further ado, here are almost all of the quotes from the Nationals’ clubhouse on a wild night at Nationals Park.
Nationals manager Davey Johnson
“My back started tightening up from pulling people off,” Johnson said as he sat down for his post-game press conference. “I might have to go on the DL.”
On what happened with Bo Porter and Cubs bench coach Jamie Quirk: “Well, their bench coach was yelling all kinds of things. ‘Swinging 3-0, blah blah blah blah’ really loud. And it was totally uncalled for. Here we are in the fifth inning, we’re in a pennant race, we’re going to swing 3-0, we’re going to do everything. We ain’t stopping trying to score runs. Certainly a five-run lead at that time is nothing. I think it was the bench coach’s frustration in us handing it to them for a couple days.
“If they want to quit competing and forfeit, then fine. But we’re going to keep competing. I don’t know why they’re getting on about swinging 3-0. Their first baseman swung 3-0 in the first inning. What’s the difference with the bases loaded in the fifth with only a five-run lead and two outs? Just frustration over there on their part and then a couple of their players, one guy came over the top and tried to hit somebody and that was (Manny) Corpas and that created a ruckus. And then the catcher (Steve Clevenger) pushed Michael Morse and (Edwin) Jackson was right there with him and shoved him and that’s again frustration from a team that’s having a rough year. But I was proud of my guys for not really overreacting and taking a chance. We’re in a pennant race. We’ve got to be mild citizens.
“We don’t start things but we’re not going to completely back down from anything. But you worry about somebody getting hurt or somebody getting suspended because of something they did. I had a conversation with several of the guys and we just can’t react. Even if somebody got smoked, we can’t hit somebody.”
On what angered Michael Morse and Edwin Jackson: “Morse really got, it was almost like a punch, you know? And that’s what set Mo off and Jackson, those were the two who were right there, you know. That’s what really aggravated my guys and I don’t blame ‘em. I’d have been the same way. I’d have probably popped him.
On if he anticipates his lone player ejected, Michael Gonzalez, to face a suspension: “No. I think he was, really, the umpires did a heck of job in handling it. He was reacting to the guy coming over the top and he didn’t throw no punches, he just, somebody on our side (had to go) to kind of balance things out. I thought they handled it very well. I didn’t want to lose him, I wanted to use him in that eighth inning. It put a crimp in what I wanted to do but I wouldn’t suspect, it was more of a, we were on then field too, but we definitely didn’t start it and we didn’t exacerbate it or keep the flames going higher.”
On how Bryce Harper handled the whole thing, getting thrown at by Lendy Castillo: “It was just unfortunate that a guy threw a ball behind him. We heard from one of the guys we know over there that said it definitely wasn’t ordered from the bench so I don’t know the whole story there but I thought he handled it pretty good.”
On if he had to remind his team that they have more at stake than the Cubs: “I told them on the field and whatever. I’ve been in a lot of situations like this. When I was in New York, and when I was in Cincy… We’re not going out there throwing any blows. But that’s the frustration of a team that’s not having a good year.”
On if he took it personally: “No I mean, if they get mad at my guys in the fifth inning swinging 3-0 or running, they better get used to it.”
On if he was surprised to see Bo Porter reacted as strongly as he did: “It was getting real personal and he’s sticking up for me because it’s really my decision on what we do on the field… That’s how we play. We don’t quit trying to compete. My deal is basically when we get to the closer with a seven-run lead (that’s when I’ll let off the gas). This stuff, play behind, not stealing, not keep trying to score runs is, I don’t agree with it. Anything can happen. Interesting night.”
Left-hander Michael Gonzalez
“You come into our house and try to mess with our kid brother? That’s how we look at it. You’re not just going to come in and do as you please with that.”
On whether or not Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo put his hand on Gonzalez: “I just saw something I didn’t appreciate. And again, I think that was the best thing, that he didn’t hit Bryce. Obviously this kid’s been doing his thing. He’s been playing ball like it needs to be played. I think it was the best thing he didn’t hit him, because it wouldn’t have stopped there.”
On if he might be suspended: “You know what, that’s besides the point. I really don’t think about anything like that. Again, I think it just escalated a little further than it needed to be. Just a little frustrated. The best way to explain it is, you don’t come into our house and you can’t mess with our kid brother. That’s how we see it.”
On why he felt he was ejected: “Well, I guess someone had to be ejected, so I guess it was me. I don’t know much about that one… The only thing that I see myself doing was, I questioned a couple of the guys that I didn’t appreciate what they were doing. I just questioned them, and I guess it kind of put the focus on me.”
On if the Cubs had a point with the Nationals not letting up despite a five run lead: “Oh, it’s still a game. We’ve been playing ball the way we have, and there’s nothing wrong with doing that. Again, I think this (Cubs) team is young. I respect those guys in the other clubhouse. But sometimes I think they need to learn how to play the game a little better. There was nothing wrong with how we played ball. The good thing is, nothing escalated from there.”
Nationals third base coach Bo Porter
“We played great for four games. Glad to see (Jordan) Zimmermann throw the ball well. Guys swung the bats. Good victory.”
On what happened between he and Quirk: “I really…you have to go over and ask them. You ask them something about their dugout you got to go ask them.”
On why he reacted so strongly: “Well when it comes to our players I’m very passionate.”
“Every time you start the game there’s two teams out there. And when I was younger I did Gold Glove boxing and my trainer would always tell me before the bell rang, he said ‘Just in case you didn’t know, when this bell ring that guy over there he’s gonna hit back.’”
On if he was warned to stay in the third base coaches box: “Yes, the umpires they did order me to stay in the box the rest of the game after whatever happened happened.”
Outfielder Bryce Harper
On if he was surprised they threw at him: “Not really. I think going up in that situation, I thought something was going to happen because of what happened before. I think…that’s just baseball, I guess.”
On if figuring they were going to throw at him made it easier to stay calm: “I wasn’t going to do anything stupid. I’m just trying to check off everything on my list. I’ve gotten thrown at, gotten hit, stole home, we’re winning, homers, everything that’s going on, just checking it off the list. That’s one of them. Just trying to stay calm in that situation and not do anything stupid.”
On if it’s still a game when the Nationals stole and Jayson Werth swung 3-0: “Absolutely. I think I’d be pretty pissed off if I was getting my teeth kicked in all weekend, too, but you can’t lay down. I think being up like that, I think J-dub still has to do his job and try to get some stuff going… The Braves series, they came back after we were up 9-0. So you can’t lay low. You’ve got to keep going, keep grinding, keep coming.”
On if he had to remind himself that the Nationals have far more to lose than the Cubs: “That’s the biggest thing. Like I said before, I wasn’t going to do anything stupid. Just trying to say some words. I wasn’t going to charge or nothing like that. It was just a heat of the moment thing, but I wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize the next week or so or be out five games for doing something dumb. I was just trying to stay in that moment and not really worry about what was happening.”
On if he was motivated to do something special later in that at-bat after tempers cooled: “There was nothing really there. Of course, you try to do something special, but there’s nothing you can do. He threw a great 3-2 backdoor slider, but just got to tip your cap. It would’ve been great to hit a homer, but it didn’t happen.”
First baseman Adam LaRoche
“Great series. Great series. Nice to see a bunch of runs getting scored on our end. Again, we’ve been doing it for seems like a while now. Hopefully keep that going. As far as this mess goes, you know I’ve been on both sides of that. When you’re losing and nothing’s going your way it’s real easy to snap. You’re already about ready to lose it anyway. So one little thing sends you over the top. And I don’t know exactly what happened. But I don’t think there’s any hurt feelings. It’s over with.”
On how important it was to remember the Nationals had a lot at stake and the Cubs didn’t: “We got a lot more to lose and I think that’s what Davey and (Randy Knorr) and the guys were trying to get everybody back and say ‘Listen, if one of us does something it’s going to cost us a lot more than one of their guys at this point in the year.’ So I think for them most part guys kept their head on their shoulders. It didn’t get too out of control. That’s not what we need this time of year – get a suspension or somebody break a finger or something. So it worked out all right.”
On if the Nationals were right to continue playing hard with a five run lead: “Absolutely. That’s in no way a blowout. You’re talking about a couple of base hits, a big swing and they’re right back in the game. So yeah I don’t agree with that if that’s what it was solely over, a 3-0 swing, I got to back Bo on that one. We’re not gonna lay down. We’ve already been beat when we’re winning by nine once. So, no point in laying down in the fifth inning. You keep grinding. If they don’t like it, oh well.””
Outfielder Michael Morse
“Just tensions were high a little bit. Both teams were a little mad. But it was under control. The umpires did a great job. Nothing came about it. And we kept playing. So it was good.”
On if he felt the Nationals took the high road: “I think both teams did, besides the pitch to Harper. I think everybody handled it the right way. Things didn’t get too carried away.”
On the reason the whole thing started: “It’s kind of weired. We lost to the Braves earlier this year. You look at games, it’s never over until the last out. You could see where tensions were a little high. Luckily, nothing came about it. It was fun.”
On keeping their heads calm: “I think we have a lot to lose – more than them, of course. It’s good to see that your teammates got your back. Especially for Bryce. It’s good to see that. Our team is together. We’re real close. If something happens like that, of course everybody is going to care. I’m just glad nothing came out of it.”
Home plate umpire Jerry Layne
On why Quirk was ejected: “Quirk was ejected for screaming out obscenities to the third base coach. That was the ejection for the coach. The fracas was started, all that stuff that happened, was instigated by Quirk screaming out at Porter. And the obscenities that he screamed out I just felt was inappropriate and that’s what caused everything. The reason he was ejected was he was the cause.”
Reasons for ejecting Corpas, Clevenger and Gonzalez: “Basically, everybody that was ejected was because of their action. Did anybody take one in the nose? No. We’re trying to restore order. They were not doing their part to restore order; they were more instigating and furthering the problem.”
On Bo Porter: “I told Porter he must stay in the coaches box and if he conducted himself in anything beyond that he would be subject (to an ejection). I told him that I didn’t think what he did, because remember the catcher had a broken web in his glove. That was what the delay was. That’s why the catcher went to the dugout. The pitch before had broke the webbing of his glove. A lot people don’t know that. Why is this delay? What is going on?… So that’s why when Quirk was screaming out at Porter, that’s why Porter walked over, there was timeout.
On if Porter was close to being ejected: “He got very close of being out of order himself. Had he got into the dugout and started a fracas, he would have been ejected. But I thought this was all stemming from what Jamie Quirk did and he started it. So I got the person that started it.
On if there were warnings issued before Castillo threw inside: “No. There was no warning. It was just that the pitch that I felt he threw inside, and I issued the warning. And that was after Harper took offense to it, after the benches emptied. … There was no warning to the pitchers just because of Jamie Quirk.
On if he considered tossing Castillo despite the fact that there was no warning: “Just because Jamie Quirk did something I can’t hold the first baseman responsible or the pitcher or the catcher. The pitcher didn’t do nothing.”