The 2017 Major League Baseball season took a dramatic twist during yesterday's Memorial Day games. The Nationals slugger, who received a four-game ban Tuesday from Major League Baseball, went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts and twice left the bases loaded.
Washington led 2-0 with two outs in the eighth inning and none on when Strickland drilled Harper on the first pitch - a 98 miles per hour fastball. During the eighth inning, Strickland hit Harper with a pitch and then chaos ensured.
Strickland's punishment isn't as harsh as it seems, since relief pitchers tend to play two innings - at most - compared to the full nine that a guy like Harper would play.
Strickland hit Harper in the face before catching a punch to the head, as teammates rushed onto the field. Again, Harper's decision to charge the mound was inexcusable because baseball has to move beyond that, but at least it was understandable in the heat of the moment. For what it's worth, Strickland is also appealing his suspension, despite outlining his incentive to plunk Harper in talking to the media on Monday. Monday was the first time Strickland faced Harper since that NLDS.
And the important question is the one Nationals manager Dusty Baker asked on Harper's behalf after the game: "What's a man supposed to do?"
"I think it's more risky than people realize", Francona said.
"I don't think anybody is right or wrong", Arrieta said Tuesday on 670 The Score in Chicago. He continued to say that he did not know why Strickland decided this was the appropriate time for revenge. In Vegas on Tuesday afternoon the logical target was San Francisco catcher Buster Posey.
"You never want to get suspended or anything like that, " Harper said. I'm not sure why, given the Giants had the last laugh since they won the World Series that year. "I don't know why he did it or what he did it for, but I guess it happens". Morse looked like he was there to play peacemaker and get between Strickland and Harper, his old teammate. The USF kid started toward the mound, and I grabbed him by the back of the trousers and held on for dear life until a coach could take control. Morse and Samardzija were among the first players to reach Strickland and Harper on the mound. Some people I've chatted with on the subject thought Harper did exactly that and just missed.
One player who didn't join the fray was Posey, who stood behind the plate and watched as Harper rushed the mound and then stayed to the edges of the fight. "I don't get hit a lot, but I would not like to be injured by a pitcher that is mad because I hit a home run against him".
I know Buster has our back, Strickland said.