The San Francisco Giants and Washington Nationals renew acquaintances on Saturday for the first time since reliever Hunter Strickland drilled superstar Bryce Harper in the hip with a 98-mph fastball that sparked a brawl in late May. While both insist that they’ve moved on from the skirmish, there’s a chance the two will square off in a more traditional sense in Saturday’s opener of a rain-delayed three-game series at Nationals Park, which will conclude with a doubleheader Sunday after Friday’s game was postponed.
Harper ripped an RBI double in Thursday’s 3-2 victory over Miami, giving Washington four wins in its last five games and pushing its lead in the National League East to a staggering season-high 15 games over the second-place Marlins - a number that fell to 14 1/2 when Miami won on Friday. The 2015 NL MVP is 10-for-28 with two homers, seven RBIs and six runs scored in his last seven contests, but went 0-for-8 with four strikeouts during Washington’s three-game sweep of San Francisco. Giants outfielder Jarrett Parker didn’t play in that series, but enters Friday’s tilt with eight RBIs during his six-game hitting streak. The 28-year-old Virginia native had a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning on Wednesday, leading San Francisco to its fourth win in five outings with a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, NBCSN Bay Area (San Francisco), MASN (Washington)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Giants RH Chris Stratton (0-2, 6.63 ERA) vs. Nationals RH Edwin Jackson (2-2, 4.34)
Stratton was reinstated from the disabled list and notched his second straight no-decision while making his second career major league start on Saturday against Arizona. The 26-year-old, who replaced veteran Matt Cain in the rotation, allowed three runs on five hits in as many innings. Stratton saw his pitch count elevate due in large part to the four walks he surrendered, bringing his total to 10 in his last three outings.
Jackson got the nod last Saturday in place of Gio Gonzalez (paternity list), overcoming a four-run first inning to work four more clean frames in a 7-4 setback at the Chicago Cubs. “I couldn’t get the ball down in the first inning. I had a couple balls hit that were up in the zone,” the 33-year-old said. Jackson fell to 2-2 with a 3.75 ERA in his last four starts.
1. Washington RHP Ryan Madson has been downright impressive since being acquired from Oakland, scattering four hits and recording 12 strikeouts over eight scoreless innings.
2. San Francisco relievers surrendered two earned runs in their last 22 2/3 innings.
3. Seventeen of Nationals CF Brian Goodwin’s 24 hits since July 17 have gone for extra bases.
PREDICTION: Nationals 7, Giants 2