Quick Links

Gio, Harper win May NL honors

782666.png

Gio, Harper win May NL honors

For a franchise that has rarely boasted any prominent award winners in its brief history, the Nationals certainly are experiencing a reversal of fortunes this season.

The Nationals learned today left-hander Gio Gonzalez was named NL Pitcher of the Month for May and outfielder Bryce Harper was named NL Rookie of the Month for May.

Gonzalez was 5-0 with a 2.25 ERA in five starts last month, leading the league with 45 strikeouts. In voting among media members across baseball, the lefty beat out the Mets' R.A. Dickey (4-0, 1.83), the Phillies' Cole Hamels (5-0, 2.25) and the Dodgers' Chris Capuano (4-1, 1.62).

Harper, meanwhile, earned the first award of his big-league career by hitting .271 with 21 runs, four triples, four homers and 10 RBI. The 19-year-old former No. 1 draft pick beat out the likes of Diamondbacks right-hander Wade Miley (3-1, 3.16), Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso (.298 average, one homer, 10 RBI), Phillies second baseman Freddy Galvis (.255, two homers, 18 RBI) and Reds third baseman Todd Frazier (.246, five homers, 11 RBI).

Thus, the Nationals' early season run on official MLB awards continues. Stephen Strasburg already earned NL Pitcher of the Month honors for April. He and Gonzalez become the first teammates to win the award in back-to-back months since the Braves' Tim Hudson and Derek Lowe in August and September 2010.

This is uncharted territory for the Nationals. In their first seven seasons of existence, they won only two monthly awards: Ryan Church was NL Rookie of the Month in May 2005, and Chad Cordero was NL Pitcher of the Month in June 2005.

So in the last two months, the Nationals have won more awards than they amassed in the previous seven years combined.

Quick Links

Even after two-plus years, Hunter Strickland couldn't forget last meeting with Bryce Harper

Even after two-plus years, Hunter Strickland couldn't forget last meeting with Bryce Harper

965 days. That's the amount of time that separated the second time Bryce Harper and Hunter Strickland faced each other on an MLB diamond and the third one.

In that second matchup, which came back in Game 4 of the 2014 NLDS, Harper launched a game-tying home run in the seventh inning off of Strickland. Harper also hit a blast off Strickland in Game 1 of the same series.

Well, apparently, the Giants reliever still hasn't gotten over his last time he saw the Nationals star, because on Monday, the right-hander plunked the MVP candidate with a fastball the first chance he had since their postseason encounters almost three years ago.

Ironically enough, after San Francisco beat Washington in the NLDS, Strickland told the SF Chronicle how he would have to "have a short memory" on the mound for the rest of the playoffs and keep his composure after the home runs. Judging by this video, however, it's clear that Strickland's had some issues moving on:

RELATED: MORE ON THE HARPER VS. STRICKLAND BRAWL

When you look back at that Game 4 meeting, you'll see Harper pause at home plate and watch his moonshot after sending it into the McCovey Cove, then glare at Strickland a few times as he rounds the bases. Some will call what No. 34 did a violation of baseball's unwritten rules, but it was a huge moment on a huge stage, which contributed to Harper's emotional reaction.

The fact of the matter is that plenty of pitchers have moved on from much more egregious things in much shorter time frames, but for whatever reason, Strickland just wasn't able to.

Afterward, Harper explained why he thinks the hit by pitch should've never happened.

But Ryan Zimmerman had the best quote of all when talking about the sequence:

The veteran is right on with that statement. Harper was better than Strickland back in 2014, so Strickland felt the need to tag Harper first before Harper had a chance to tag him again on Monday. Essentially, the pitcher followed the, "If you can't beat him, bean him" strategy.

965 days is a long time to get over a grudge. For Hunter Strickland, though, 965 days still wasn't enough.

MORE: 10 INSANE BALLPARK FOODS YOU CAN EAT IN 2017

Quick Links

Bryce Harper charges mound, throws punches after Hunter Strickland hits him with pitch

Bryce Harper charges mound, throws punches after Hunter Strickland hits him with pitch

In their two previous meetings, Bryce Harper took Hunter Strickland deep. Very deep, in fact.

So in their third encounter, Strickland made sure that Harper wouldn't have the chance to do it again. 

RELATED: HERE'S THE HISTORY BETWEEN BRYCE HARPER AND HUNTER STRICKLAND

In the top of the eighth inning of Monday's Nationals-Giants game, the San Francisco reliever went after Washington's best player on the first pitch and hit him in the thigh with a 98 MPH fastball.

Harper — without hesitation — responded by charging the mound and throwing his helmet at Strickland, and the two then squared off and exchanged punches.

Here is the wild video of the whole sequence:

Harper and Strickland were, of course, ejected after initiating one of the best MLB fights in recent memory. This was the pair's first time facing each other since Harper's two home runs in the 2014 NLDS, meaning Strickland's had a long time to get over No. 34's blasts but simply couldn't do it.

MORE: 10 INSANE BALLPARK FOODS YOU CAN FIND (AND TASTE) IN 2017