KANSAS CITY -- From baseball's unwritten rule book:
Rule 8.61: "If you are a rookie pitcher, do not mouth off to an opposing player on national television when trailing in a World Series game."
"(a) Especially if you have less than 15 innings of major league experience."
"(b) And you just gave up your fifth home run of the postseason."
"(c) And the home run was to Omar Freaking Infante."
"(d) Seriously. Don't do it.''
Poor Hunter Strickland. Two months ago, pretty much nobody outside of the San Francisco Giants' scouting department knew about him. He was pitching in Double-A Richmond when the Giants called him up at the end of August. He pitched all of seven innings in the majors before the postseason began. And there he was on the field in the World Series on Wednesday night, shouting at the Kansas City Royals' Salvador Perez, clearing the dugouts and exploding the Twitter-verse.
As former big leaguer Greg Swindell tweeted about Strickland's behavior: "Immaturity. Plus giving up a homer every outing in the playoffs is what that was. Sit down young man. And get your breaking ball over."
Brought into a tight Game 2 with the Giants trailing 3-2 and runners on first and second in the sixth inning, Strickland quickly threw a wild pitch to move runners to second and third. Then he gave up a two-run double to Perez that made it 5-2. And then he gave up a two-run homer to Infante that effectively ended the game at 7-2. And then he let his emotions get the best of him.
Perez said Strickland, who has a little reputation for this sort of thing, stared at him on second base after the double. He said he started glaring at him again when he crossed home plate after Infante's home run, prompting Perez to shout: "Hey, why you look at me?" And then Strickland started barking back.
"He was telling me, 'Get out of here, whatever,'" Perez said when asked what happened. "So I don't know. [I said,] 'You don't have to treat me like that. Look at Omar. Omar hit a bomb. I didn't hit a bomb. I hit a double.'"
Strickland, who was surrounded by a crush of media several reporters deep in the clubhouse, blamed the incident on "miscommunication on my part." He said he was frustrated with himself, not Perez, and had no hard feelings to anyone. He said Perez was yelling at him in Spanish and he didn't understand what he was saying to him.
OK, so then why did you start yelling back at Perez? "I'm not going to back down from anything," Strickland said. "I thought he must have thought I said something to him so, and like I said, it was just the way it is. I got caught up in it."
Yes, he did. And that was a mistake.
"With Strick, he's still learning this game," teammate Jeremy Affeldt said. "He was in Double-A and we brought him up and he's in the big leagues pitching in the World Series. There is a lot of stuff to learn in these situations and a lot of stuff he will continue to learn. We all keep learning. I'll discuss some of the stuff we can learn from. For him to be where he is now and have some of the situations that took place, it's not easy for anybody to deal with. But he's dealing with them and we're going to move on.
"And he's going to mature and, at the end of his career, he's probably going to look back and say, 'This helped in my maturation process of being a major leaguer.'"
"He's a really intense kid," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "I mean, this kid came up from Double-A, but he's a tough kid. He shows his emotions, but it's an area he probably has to work on because you're going to give up a home run occasionally."
Occasionally? How about almost every game? Which brings up the question: Why did Bochy bring him into a key moment like that?
Yes, Strickland got a big out in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals when he took over with the bases loaded and the Giants leading 2-0 in the sixth inning by striking out Ian Desmond on a 100 mph fastball. Great. Nice work, kid. Except in the next inning he then gave up two home runs that traveled about a quarter-mile.
Strickland received the save the next game when he pitched a scoreless inning in San Francisco's 2-1, 18-inning victory, but seven other Giants pitchers had thrown 16 scoreless innings earlier that game, so it wasn't that incredible a performance.
And then, in Strickland's next appearance, he gave up a home run and blew the lead.
And in his appearance after that, he gave up another home run to put the Giants behind.
And after a scoreless inning in Game 1, he had his Game 2 meltdown.
So these are the lessons to learn from Wednesday's game. For Strickland: Don't let your frustrations boil over into a confrontation with the opposing team. Stay calm, get over it and just go get them the next time.
And for Bochy: Unless you run out of other options, Strickland's next time should come next season, not again this October.