In the top of the eighth inning of Monday's game between the Washington Nationals and San Francisco Giants, everything was going smoothly, with the Nats holding a 2-0 lead against the home team.
Then Bryce Harper stepped into the batter's box to face San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland and things got out of hand in a hurry.
After Strickland drilled Harper in the hip with a 98 mph fastball, Harper charged the mound, firing his helmet at Strickland (and missing badly) before the two exchanged punches and the benches cleared.
As you can see in the video below, a melee ensued, with most of the action taking place around the pitcher's mound and players from both teams getting into it with each other:
The Nationals went on to win the game 3-0, but that was at the back of everyone's minds when the contest was over. Instead, the brawl continued to dominate the headlines and social media chatter in the aftermath of the game.
Fans took to Twitter to roast the players involved, from Harper and Strickland to San Francisco catcher Buster Posey and Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman:
Harper's helmet toss seemed to draw the brunt of the attention, with many poking fun at how badly he missed when he attempted to throw it at Strickland.
However, in the heat of the moment, it appears it simply slipped out of Harper's hands - just don't tell that to the fans on Twitter.
After the game, both players addressed their roles in the incident, with Harper saying he didn't want to let Strickland get away with drilling him in the hip (via ESPN.com):
"You either go to first base or you go after him, and I decided to go after him," Harper said. "[W]hen 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 added that once it was clear Harper was coming after him, he prepared for a fight:
"He decided to come out, that's what he decided to do. It's go time. You protect yourself and stand your own ground," he said. "And I'll take what consequences come with it. I was pretty fired up, to be honest. It's part of the game."
The two teams will continue their heated series on Tuesday and Wednesday. Whether the Nationals plan to retaliate for Strickland's actions remains to be seen, but any further dust-ups could lead to hefty fine and lengthy suspensions.
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