If you’re expecting any fireworks this weekend between the Nationals and Giants, Dusty Baker is cautioning you not to get yourself worked up too much.
Yes, the last meeting between these clubs included a brawl. But it’s been 2 1/2 months since then, and it really didn’t stem from any beef between the Nats and Giants as a whole, but rather from San Francisco reliever Hunter Strickland, who three years after serving up two playoff homers to Bryce Harper decided to intentionally drill him with a fastball.
Thus, Baker doesn’t expect emotions to be running too high tonight or over the remainder of the weekend ... as long as Strickland doesn’t instigate anything else.
“I didn’t even think about it, really,” Baker said this afternoon. “I mean, that’s a long time. But there was a long time between the playoffs and last time. So who knows? It’s kind of on him. Bryce, he’s not pitching. There’s nothing that we can do to him, because he probably won’t get an at-bat. So what are you going to do? You just play.”
Both players have already served suspensions for their actions in the May 29 brawl at AT&T Park. Harper served a three-game suspension later that week after his appeal reduced Major League Baseball’s original penalty by one game. Strickland’s appeal of his six-game suspension was denied, and so he served it in its entirety earlier this summer.
Jeff Samardzija does start Saturday night’s game, which could possibly provoke some emotions out of the Nationals, given the right-hander’s reaction to the fight. Samardzija was the most aggressive member of the Giants charging out of the dugout and appeared to be making a beeline for Harper before teammate Michael Morse got in his way. The two Giants collided, banging heads, and Morse suffered a concussion in the process.
Morse, hugely popular in Washington even five years after he last played here, has remained on the disabled list ever since, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy suggested to reporters today that Morse is unlikely to return to play this season. Given the fact he nearly retired before, this could prove the end of his career.
Meanwhile, closer Mark Melancon is set to be be activated off the DL on Saturday, giving the right-hander a chance to pitch at Nationals Park. Melancon, who spent the last two months of 2016 as the Nationals closer before signing a four-year, $62 million contract with the Giants over the winter, has been out with a pronator strain in his elbow. He has a 4.35 ERA in 22 appearances this season.
Update: “Approaching inclement weather” has prompted the Nationals to delay the start of tonight’s game. The team has not yet predicted a new start time.
Update II: Tonight’s game is postponed due to rain. No word yet on when the makeup game will be scheduled.