Up 2-0 with no runners on base and two outs in the top of the eighth inning against the San Francisco Giants on Monday afternoon, Washington Nationals slugger Bryce Harper walked up to the plate.
On the mound for the Giants was Hunter Strickland, who Harper hit two crucial home runs off of in the 2014 NLDS between the two clubs.
Therefore, when Strickland hit Harper in the hip with a 98 mile-per-hour fastball, things escalated, despite the fact that it was Strickland’s third pitch of the at-bat.
And boy, did they escalate quickly.
Immediately, Harper pointed his bat at Strickland, made his way towards the mound, threw his helmet at him, and the two exchanged blows as both of the benches cleared to break up the scuffle.
Check out the crazy scene in the clip below:
After the game, both players reacted to the late-game drama. "You either go to first base or you go after him and I decided to go after him," Harper told reporters of his decision to charge the mound.
When asked if he thought history played a part, Harper said he didn’t expect the retaliation since so much time had passed in between.
"No, not in that situation," Harper said. "Especially since it's been three years and they won the World Series that year. So I wasn't really thinking about it at all. But when somebody comes at you like that, throws a 90 mph fastball where he did, I wasn't very happy with it, and took it into my hands and tried to go after him.”
Strickland maintained that it wasn’t intentional, but when Harper charged the mound, he was left with no choice than to defend himself.
"I can see how [our history] kind of stands in people's minds, but that's the past," Strickland explained. "Like I said, I left the ball over the plate a couple times to him. He's taken advantage of that. So, obviously I'd rather miss in than over the plate.”
Interestingly, Giants catcher Buster Posey didn't intervene when Harper began to make his way to the mound. He had a very simple as to why he didn't move from behind home plate, too:
Despite the fight, Harper surprisingly mentioned that he respected Strickland for one reason:
"One thing I've got to say about Strickland is he hit me in the right spot, so I do respect him for that," Harper said. "He didn't come up and in toward my face like some guys do, so I respect him on that level.”
Both players will likely face a suspension as a result, but Harper’s reaction will probably cause him to miss more time than Strickland. The team will play two more games in the current series, so it will be interesting to see if any more sparks fly.
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