Basebrawl! Harper, Strickland punch away, Nats-Giants fight

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In the top of the eighth inning, Strickland plunked Harper on the right hip.

Harper took a few steps and pointed his bat at Strickland before he sprinted toward the mound.

Monday's fisticuffs between Bryce Harper and Giants reliever Hunter Strickland and the ensuing brawl provided fodder for enough meh-mays to sustain us all until the next time a pitcher intentionally throws at Harper in retaliation for home runs that pitcher allowed to the Nationals' outfielder nearly three years earlier.

Strickland and Harper each landed solid punches before the two teams met at the mound and players jostled with one another.

As the two players slugged it out, both benches cleared and Harper was eventually pulled away as the ugly melee continued.

The pitcher-hitter duo of Harper and Strickland hadn't faced each other since Harper bombed two home runs off Strickland in the 2014 NL playoffs. It was the first time he had hit an opposing batter with a pitch this season. "Especially when it's somebody that's in the past", Harper said, per MASN's Mark Zuckerman. "I've left the ball over the plate a couple times to him and he's taken advantage of that", he said. He then threw his helmet in Strickland's direction, possibly attempting to hit him and then the two got into a bit of a fist fight. "There's (no reason) to be thinking about the first round, because we were out and they were playing Kansas City in the World Series".

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Giants manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged neither player will likely emerge covered in glory after the brawl. Strickland didn't go so far as to say the pitch was completely accidental, and brushed off the idea that maybe he should apologize to Harper.

NOTES: Nationals RF Bryce Harper was ejected for the ninth time in his career.

This time, given the game situation and the Giants' lack of quality lefties in the pen, Bochy left Strickland in to face Harper with two outs and nobody on.

Strickland claimed that he tried to keep the ball on the inside but Harper saw red when he was struck by the ball. "Next thing you know he's going out after him".

"Strickland drilled him with the first pitch, and Harper took it personally and I don't blame him", noted one commentator. "Obviously, my emotions got the best of me in Game 2, so just going about it the right way and be more professional". With the club struggling already this season, this could mean that Strickland finds himself wearing a different uniform if the Giants decide to go with a younger group and start selling off pieces in hopes of replenishing their farm system. "I don't know why he's thinking about it". So you've got two guys who probably don't care for each other much. That's not surprising given his role as one of the Giants' enforcers.

Ryan Zimmerman hit a home run in the second inning and Daniel Murphy hit an RBI double off the bricks in the sixth.