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Moore might just make it after all

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Moore might just make it after all

Yes, the entire Nationals lineup has turned things up a notch or five the last two nights in Denver. Twenty-three runs scored in 18 innings? Not even the most cockeyed optimist out there could have predicted that.

But let's turn our attention away for a moment from the sudden resurgence of the likes of Ryan Zimmerman, Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche and focus on really the only player who has consistently produced at the plate this month: Tyler Moore.

Yes, the 25-year-old rookie has been tearing the cover off the ball since the Nationals called him back up from Class AAA Syracuse on June 7. In 12 prior games -- his first 12 in the big leagues -- Moore looked a bit overwhelmed. He hit .158 (3-for-19), didn't drive in a run and didn't draw a walk.

Fast-forward to last night's game at Coors Field, when Moore demolished another home run into the thin mountain air and added two more hits for good measure to continue his remarkable turnaround. In 11 games during this second big-league stint, he's now hitting .455 with four homers, 10 RBI, six walks and even three stolen bases.

Moore has recorded at least one hit in nine of his 10 starts, at least two hits in four of those games. And now he's left Davey Johnson with no choice but to make him a regular in the starting lineup.

Having previously worked his way into something of a platoon role, getting starts against left-handers, Moore has established his bat is just as potent against right-handers. He's hitting .412 (7-for-17) with two of his homers and seven of his RBI off righties.

So don't be surprised if you start seeing the young slugger at either first base or in left field just about every day of the week right now.

Too small of a sample size, you say, to draw any significant conclusions about Moore's ability to hit major-league pitching? Perhaps. But compare his numbers in this small sampling at baseball's highest level to his numbers in the minors, and you start to think this isn't a fluke.

Moore has homered once in every 13 at-bats with the Nationals. How does that compare? Well, he homered once in every 11 at-bats at Syracuse to start this season. But he homered "only" once every 17 at-bats at Class AA Harrisburg last year and once every 16 at-bats at Class A Potomac in 2010.

Point is, Moore has hit for power at every level, and his rate of success hasn't diminished by any significant amount since he arrived in D.C.

Moore's increased playing time will probably come at the expense of Steve Lombardozzi, who had become the de facto starting left fielder against right-handed opponents. But Lombardozzi has fallen into a prolonged funk at the plate, has just nine hits in 59 at-bats this month and has seen his batting average plummet to .259 from .320 in only 27 days.

At this point, Johnson just can't say no to Moore, a bit of a late bloomer who finally is reaping the benefits of his first opportunity to play on a regular basis in the big leagues.

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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

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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.

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