The Memorial Day matchup between the Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants delivered baseball and brawling when Nationals’ left-fielder Bryce Harper charged the mound to confront Giants’ pitcher Hunter Strickland in the eighth inning.
Strickland struck Harper with a 98 mph pitch to the hip. Harper had a few choice words for Strickland as he dropped his bat, strode to the mound, slung his helmet to the ground and began throwing punches.
Both benches cleared as the two players exchanged blows and others joined the melee, some attempting to break up the brawl. Strickland, a 6-foot-4, 220 pound right-handed relief pitcher had to be restrained by his teammates in order to end the ruckus.
In an interview with ESPN, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said that the hit “looked bad.”
“Harper gets hit. You’re looking at a guy (Strickland) who has given up some home runs, and he’ll tell he was trying to come in, didn’t want to make a mistake there,” Bochy said.
“But it looks bad. So you had two guys who probably don’t care for each other much. It’s unfortunate. It was a pretty good pile, so we’re probably lucky somebody on either side didn’t get hurt.”
Following the game, Harper said, “You never want to get suspended or anything like that, but sometimes you’ve just got to go and get him. You can’t hesitate. You either go to first base or go get him and I decided to go get him.”
According to Strickland, he was attempting to throw the pitch inside the plate but once Harper had been struck by the ball, he knew “it was go time.”
“You gotta protect yourself and stand your own ground. I was pretty fired up to be honest with you, but that’s just adrenaline, and it’s part of the game,” Strickland said.
Strickland and Harper were ejected from the game and incident is under review by the MLB.
The at-bat marked the first time that Harper and Strickland had faced one another since the 2014 National League Division Series between the Nationals and Giants where Harper hit two home runs off Strickland.
The Nationals ultimately shut out the Giants, winning the game 3-0, improving their record to 31-19.
Harper has earned a .331 batting average so far this season, with 15 home runs and 41 RBIs. Strickland has a 1.53 era after 21 plate appearances, and a 1-1 win loss record.
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