WASHINGTON D.C. — When the Giants arrived at Nationals Park on Friday, Bruce Bochy was asked if he would let Hunter Strickland face Bryce Harper in this series. He said that without a doubt he would, if the situation called for it.
Harper was lost before Strickland ever took the mound, suffering a knee injury in Saturday night’s series opener. A few hours later, Strickland did end up facing the heart of Washington’s order, and the home fans showed they haven’t forgotten a fight that occurred earlier this season at AT&T Park.
Strickland was booed as soon as the bullpen door opened up, and the chorus became overwhelming when he was announced as the pitcher for the eighth inning. The grumbling continued throughout the inning. After giving up a two-run homer in his frame, Strickland walked off to 30 seconds of additional boos.
“I don’t blame them,” Strickland said. “They’re obviously pulling for him and didn’t like how things went down (in San Francisco). I didn’t expect anything different.”
Asked about the boos, Bochy smiled.
“I thought it would be a standing ovation,” he joked. “I was a little surprised.”
Harper wasn’t around to try and get revenge, but the Nationals’ No. 3 hitter got a piece. Anthony Rendon hit a two-run shot that cut the deficit in half. The Giants went on to win 4-2.
“Obviously I made a mistake on one pitch and he got the best of it,” Strickland said.
The right-hander said he hopes to get another shot in the nightcap of the doubleheader. As for Harper, the Nationals got good news Sunday. What initially looked like a devastating injury is just a hyperextension and bone bruise. The Nationals expect Harper back in the lineup at some point this year.
“That’s huge for them, and huge for him in his career,” Strickland said. “You don’t wish injuries on anyone, no matter what.”