With the score tied at 4-4 in the bottom of the tenth this afternoon in Washington, D.C., Bryce Harper stepped in against Colorado Rockies’ left-hander Jake McGee.
Harper got to a 2-2 count and took a fastball outside... for a called strike three.
Harper exploded, pointing to where he thought the pitch was outside demonstratively and slamming his helmet at home plate umpire Mike Winters’ feet.
That earned a quick ejection.
It was Harper’s eighth career ejection and his second this season. He had an argument, and he wasn’t the first (or last) player to object to Winters’ zone.
He stayed around a moment to have his say, then retreated to the Nationals’ clubhouse to wait out what ended up being a 9-4 loss in extra innings.
“He had a legitimate argument,” MASN’s FP Santangelo said on the broadcast of today’s game.
“But maybe the helmet toss was a hair excessive and there’s no umpire that’s going to let you stay in the game when you do that.”
Dusty Baker told reporters that he thought it was more of a build-up of frustrating for Harper.
“Frustration usually mounts over a period of time,” Baker explained.
“It wasn’t frustration, I don’t think, with Mike Winter, it was frustration, like I said, over a period of time. Everybody blows up from time to time.
“I’m just glad that we had [Chris] Heisey, an extra player that I could put in there and so these things happen and especially it happens this time of year — tempers are short, it’s hot, played a lot of games, you’ve been around the same people for a long period of time and this is the time of year that tempers do flare up.”
Harper, however, seemed pretty clear that it was frustration with the called third strike in particular, when he spoke to reporters.
“When you’re in a game like that, 4-4 in tenth, you get to a 2-2 count, he throws a pitch off the plate for — they said — a strike, which was a ball. I was reading it all the way in. If you look at the tape, I was looking down at the ball the whole way into the glove and it was off the plate.
“I could possibly see one more pitch, maybe hit a homer or a double or walk, I could even strike out, so I just wanted to see that last pitch, and never got there.
“Just shouldn’t have happened. Just bad behind there. It’s not a strike.”
Harper started the day in the midst of a strong stretch at the plate following the time he had off for his neck issue.
He’d hit safely in 11 of his last 13 games, reaching base safely in all 13, with a .492 OBP over that stretch, and he was 20 for 50 (.391 AVG) with five doubles, a triple, two home runs, nine walks and 10 runs scored since returning the lineup on August 14th.
Before he was ejected, following the strikeout, Harper was 1 for 3 with an opposite field double, a walk, a run scored and two Ks.
“That’s a good sign, that’s an excellent sign. When he’s hitting that ball to left field and not pulling everything or rolling over, [that means] he’s staying on the ball and he’s staying through the zone. That’s a very good sign. I mean he’s been heating up and we know the best is yet to come.”
As long as he can avoid getting thrown out of the games...
Werth on Harper's ejection: 'I’ve been kicked out of one game my whole career. Bryce, on the other hand, has been kicked out of multiple.'— Chase Hughes (@chasehughesCSN) August 27, 2016