Last night’s benches-clearing scuffle between the Nationals and Cubs got all the headlines, but before things got ugly when Bryce Harper was nearly hit by a pitch in the sixth inning the 19-year-old rookie showed once again that he’s perhaps MLB’s most aggressive baserunner.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post did a great job describing Harper’s pre-scuffle work on the bases, which included stretching a double into a triple followed by this:
Ryan Zimmerman followed and tapped a dribbler to the left of the mound, which [Justin] Germano fielded. Just off third base, Harper froze as Germano looked him back. Germano, satisfied Harper would behave like the other 99 percent of major league baserunners, turned his back and threw to first.
Harper did not behave like other major league baserunners. He did not take two quiet steps back to third base. He ran like the fastest kid in Little League, the one who runs until he is tagged out and makes other parents want to look at his birth certificate. He ran like someone dared him to. Harper darted, hell-bent for home.
Harper was safe, tying the game at 1-1. And the Nationals spent the rest of the night making the Cubs look and act like they were the Little Leaguers.
Yesterday Mike Trout left the Marlins-Angels game after hurting his thumb while sliding head first into second base. After the game the Angels talked about it as if it were just a sprain. Trout had an MRI today, however, and the diagnosis is far worse: he has a torn thumb ligament.
While a treatment option has not yet been chosen, surgery is a possibility. A certainty is that he’ll miss, at the very least, several weeks of play. He has been placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career.
Trout, the reigning AL MVP and, without question, the best player in baseball, is batting .337/.461/.742 with 16 home runs, 36 RBI, 36 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 206 plate appearances this season. Even with the one of the weaker supporting casts in baseball, Trout had the Angels near .500 and in at least arguable contention in the AL West.
Without him, they are likely sunk. Without him, baseball is worse off.
SAN FRANCISCO — Nationals slugger Bryce Harper and San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland both landed punches to the head during a wild brawl that erupted Monday after a hit by pitch.
Harper was hit in the right hip by Strickland’s 98 mph fastball in the eighth inning with Washington ahead 2-0.
Harper pointed the bat toward Strickland, charged the mound and fired his batting helmet wide of the pitcher. They started to swing away and they each connected as the benches and bullpens emptied.
At least two Giants players forcefully dragged Strickland from the middle of the brawl all the way into the dugout. Harper and Strickland were both ejected.
In the 2014 NL Division Series, Harper hit two home runs off Strickland. After the star’s second shot, in Game 4, he stared at Strickland as he rounded the bases.