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Nats await 2011 playoff hero Carpenter

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Nats await 2011 playoff hero Carpenter

Cardinals Game 3 starter Chris Carpenter earned a place in baseball history last year with his performance in the World Series and has an impressive playoff resume overall. This season, however, Carpenter is in a unique situation having made just three total starts since returning from injury.

Carpenter suffered a nerve problem in his shoulder in February and was originally diagnosed to miss the entire season after undergoing surgery in July. But the former Cy Young winner made a quick recovery and returned on September 21 to log 17 innings before entering the postseason.

It is a much different situation compared to last year when Carpenter entered the playoffs with a league-leading 237 13 innings pitched. Despite the excessive workload of last season, the 37-year-old said he would take it over the lack of innings this year if given the choice.

To be honest with you, I'd much rather have all the innings than not the innings, because you know what you're going to get, he said. What have I thrown, 17 innings or something? You know, that's not too many innings to work the kinks out in live games.

Carpenter was admittedly rusty in his three starts this season, but the results werent bad at all. He allowed two runs through five in his first outing against the Cubs and then posted two quality starts to finish the year.

If Carpenter was able to pitch that well during the regular season, he may be even better in the playoffs. His career ERA of 3.76 in 15 MLB seasons is good, but his 3.05 ERA through 94 13 playoff innings is great.

On Tuesday, the day before his Game 3 start, Carpenter explained his love for the postseason.

This is what I live for, he said. I woke up this morning; it's the day before and I got that going in my stomach already.I couldn't wait to get here and talk to the media, do my thing. It's an exciting time."

Most of the Nationals have never played in the playoffs before this year. Against Carpenter, their inexperience will be matched with one of the most playoff seasoned pitchers in baseball.

Obviously hes done a lot, Ryan Zimmerman said. This whole team over there has been in this situation many a time.

Bryce Harper said he didnt watch many of Carpenters 2011 playoff starts, but expects a battle from the 66 ace.

Carpenter is unbelievable. He is an All-Star, hes a competitor out there, he said.

He wants to beat you with all of his stuff. Hes a veteran guy out there and its going to be tough. But its going to be fun, hes unbelievable so Im up for the challenge.

The Nationals haven't faced Carpenter since August 26, 2010.

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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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