AP File Photo May 29, 2017: After being hit by a pitch, Washington Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper (34) approaches San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Hunter Strickland (60) on the mound. San Francisco Giants first baseman Michael Morse (38), second baseman Joe Panik (12) (obscured) and starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija (29) arrive to break up the fight that broke out during the eighth inning in a MLB baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the San Francisco Giants on Memorial Day at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California. Valerie Shoaps/CSM(Credit Image: © Valerie Shoaps/CSM via ZUMA Wire) (Cal Sport Media via AP Images
By Jeremy Harness
The last time the Giants and the Nationals saw each other, Hunter Strickland drilled Bryce Harper with a fastball, and Harper responded by charging the mound, igniting a benches-clearing incident that saw plenty of tempers flaring.
It also put one player, Michael Morse, on the disabled list with no real timetable for his return.
The upcoming series itself, which starts Friday night at Nationals Park in Washington, is not expected to be much of a contest, although the Giants did take two of three from the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs this week.
The Nationals have pretty much run away with the National League East at this point, and the only thing they are really competing for right now is the NL’s best record. However, they are fighting an uphill battle there, as the Los Angeles Dodgers have a 12-game lead for that top spot.
The Giants, meanwhile, are enduring a season that they would rather soon forget, as only the Philadelphia Phillies have a worse record in the National League, as they currently sport a 46-70 record.
The only real intrigue is whether the bad feelings will rear its ugly head again if a player gets hit by a pitch, or if someone slides into a base too aggressively, etc. In that case, it could very well turn into Strickland v. Harper II.
As for Friday’s opener, Chris Stratton (0-2, 6.63 ERA) will take the hill for the Giants, to be opposite Washington righty Edwin Jackson (2-2, 4.34 ERA).
In his last outing, Stratton went five innings and surrendered a pair of earned runs on five hits, walking four and striking out another four in a no-decision last Saturday. In the outing before that, he pitched the final four innings of an 11-3 win over Pittsburgh, getting credited with a save in the process.
Jackson, on the other hand, got tagged with a loss in his last start, a 7-4 loss to the Cubs that saw him give up four runs on six hits, striking out eight but not walking a single batter.