October 5, 2022

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The award for best HBP flop goes to …

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Oscars season has come and gone, but can we give one to Travis d’Arnaud retroactively? The Braves catcher did his best acting job (some NBA players might call this a picture-perfect flop) when he was hit by a pitch in the eighth inning Tuesday night.

Nationals utility man Dee Strange-Gordon was on the mound in a blowout, and he delivered a 52.1 mph pitch that headed straight for d’Arnaud’s back. The Atlanta backstop, who has certainly taken more painful blows behind the plate, turned and waited for the pitch to hit him. Then he faked a wince and crumpled to the ground like a puppy playing dead. Strange-Gordon gave a little shrug and d’Arnaud took his base after the softest plunking he’ll probably ever receive.

“Walking up [to the plate], I was thinking, ‘If I get hit, I’m just going to flop down,’” d’Arnaud said. “I almost spoke it into existence. It was fun.”

Apparently this isn’t the first time d’Arnaud has pulled such a move, and his older brother was a bit of a tattle-tale in letting everybody know.

There were a lot of laughs in this game for d’Arnaud, who was also the victim of a great deke at second base by Washington infielder César Hernández. On an overthrow that should have allowed d’Arnaud to advance to third, Hernández pretended to catch the ball and put a tag on the Braves catcher, even though the ball was in right field.

So d’Arnaud both showed off his acting chops and was fooled by an opponent’s. That calls for an award all its own.

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