Baseball: Hunter Strickland suspended 6 games, Bryce Harper 4 – Salt Lake Tribune
Strickland hit Harper in the hip with a pitch in the eighth inning and the Washington slugger charged the mound, wildly firing his helmet before trading punches to the head with Strickland during the Nationals’ 3-0 win Monday at San Francisco.
MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre’s explanation of the disciplinary decisions said Strickland intentionally hit “Harper with a pitch, inciting the bench-clearing incident and fighting” while Harper’s suspension came “for charging the mound, throwing his helmet and fighting.”
“I’m obviously not thrilled about it,” Strickland said. “It’s their call. We’ll go from there. Whatever they ultimately decide, I’ll own it and take the responsibility.”
The bad blood stems from a pair of home runs Harper hit off Strickland in the 2014 playoffs, when the Giants went on to capture their third World Series championship in five years.
“It’s just crazy that it even happened yesterday after three years to do that,” Harper said. “I don’t know. I don’t know what was going through his mind or how upset he was the past couple of years. If he did have a problem, he could have talked to me about it.”
Washington led 2-0 with two outs in the eighth inning and none on when Strickland drilled Harper on the first pitch — a 98 mph fastball. Harper immediately pointed his bat at Strickland, yelled at him and took off.
Harper flung his helmet and they began throwing punches, with the 6-foot-4 Strickland clocking Harper in the face. They then broke apart for a moment before squaring off again. Harper punched Strickland in the head as the benches and bullpens emptied.
Giants teammates Michael Morse and Jeff Samardzija collided hard as they tried to get between the two fighters and Harper said it could have been more serious if that hadn’t happened.
“As I was going out there, the first initial reaction is you might get blindsided by one of their players coming in,” he said. “I’m kind of thankful that Mikey Mo and Samardzija collided because Samardzija saw blood a little bit I thought. Very thankful for Mikey Mo.”
One player who didn’t join the fray was Giants catcher Buster Posey, who stood and watched as Harper rushed the mound and then stayed to the edges of the fight.
While much was made on social media about Posey’s inaction, Strickland said there was no need for Posey to explain himself.
“I know Buster has our back,” Strickland said. “We as a whole group and team, we stick together. That’s never a worry of mine.”
Harper had his own theory why Posey stayed out of the mix.
“I think a lot of their guys were shocked,” Harper said. “Buster was definitely shocked and not looking for that to happen.”