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Real or not? The costly luxury of Bryce Harper's antics



NEW YORK – Let's put it this way: Nobody looks better when he's got a shot than Bryce Harper

Harper was ejected for the 12th time in his career in the Philadelphia Phillies' 5-1 loss to the New York Mets on Monday, but at least it was a display of modern art worthy of a showing at the Guggenheim. Consider the mechanics of this particular ejection:

(1) It came four batters after Harper had been called out on strikes in the top of the fourth inning. Like a carefully crafted movie script, let's build the tension until the moment called for some action.

(2) He let Phillies manager Gabe Kapler jump first out of the dugout, creating added tension and confusion as to what exactly was going on.

(3) Harper, in his selection after Mark Carlson's umpire, slipped on the dugout steps. This could have been a disastrous moment for Harper and the Phillies, a freak injury if he had twisted ankle or knee.

(4) Kapler shoved him out of the way before Harper could get to Carlson. Again, maybe a lucky break for the Phillies, given that Kapler is perhaps the only manager with the appropriate upper-body strength to hold off Harper.

(5) Harper went out with a blaze of glory, continuing to yell and point toward Carlson, with his magnificently coiffed hair on full display.

OK, more seriously, it's not all fun and games when you lose your No. 3 hitter midway through what was a 2-1

game against a key division opponent. Harper admitted as much after the game.

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"It just can't happen. In a game like that, against the Mets, division rival, things like that, it just can It's happening, "he said." For myself and this team as well. We're a better team with me in the lineup, and I've got to stay in that game. "

Teammate Jake Arrieta, who picked up the game in the game, admonished Harper after the game:" We need him in the right field. for either side, I'm out there, trying to make pitches, he misses some calls, so what? We need [Bryce] out there. "

Kapler was obviously not happy after the game, though he defended Harper and said Carlson's ejection wasn't fair. "There was normal chirping from the dugout that is in every dugout every single night," he said. "It was no different."

Nonetheless, considering that the ejection came four batters after Harper struck out, the chirping had obviously tested Carlson's patience. As Arrieta suggested, ultimately the responsibility of the player remains in the game. In the video, you can see Harper still on the top step of the dugout. He could have said his peace as he walked away from the batter's box and then stewed on the bench.

Of course, Harper isn't new to ejections. Among active players, only Matt Kemp has more, with 14 – and Kemp reached the majors six years before Harper. Yunel Escobar is third on the active list, with nine, and I'm not sure he's still active, considering it last appeared in the big leagues in 2017.

Is Harper too much of a hothead? Does he have a reputation with the umpires, fair or not? It's hard to say. His 12 ejections have come from 12 different umpires:

Date Umpire Trigger event
8/29/2012 CB Bucknor Call at first base (threw helmet)
5/5/2013 John Hirschbeck Checked swing (threw bat, helmet)
7/13/2013 Hunter Wendelstedt Called third strike
5/13/2015 ] Rob Drake Checked swing
5/20/2015 Marvin Hudson Balls and strikes
7/31/2015 Jerry Meals Called third strike
5 / 9/2016 Brian Knight Balls and strikes
8/27/2016 Mike Winters Called third strike (slammed bat)
5/29/2017 Brian Gorman Fighting (threw helmet)
7/26/2017 Chris Segal Balls and strikes
9/20/2018 DJ Rayburn Called third strike
4/22/2019 Mark Carlson Balls and strikes

Harper didn't have a ready explanation for this ejection. "I'm usually zero-to-100 anyways, so I like all my ejections it's usually pretty calm, and then" Bam! " When it happens, try to let it out, I guess. "

But Harper isn't a young kid anymore. He's in his eighth season in the majors. He knows questionable calls are part of the game – and the two in the fourth inning are just that questionable. As one of the expected leaders of the team, Harper can't allow himself to cross the line or give an excuse to send him to the showers early.

He knows this. "The Phillies went down quietly after the ejection, with Mets pitchers retiring the final 16 batters in a row as the Phillies dropped their fourth game in five. Harper has to do better on Tuesday, but so do the rest of his teammates.

Elsewhere on Monday …

Arenado's big night: The Rockies beat the Nationals 7-5, and it was the Nolan Arenado show. He hit two doubles and a go-ahead home run in the seventh inning for his 1,000th career hit, and he turned a slick 5-3 double play to end the game. Here's the home run:

Arenado got off to a terrible start, with no home runs and six RBIs through the team's first 15 games. Not coincidentally, the Rockies started 3-12. In his past seven games, however, has gone 10-for-28 with four home runs and nine RBIs, and the Rockies have won seven of eight, when released against the Phillies on Saturday.

Cardinals beat up Brewers pitching: The Cardinals turned to 5-4 lead to 13-5 victory with seven runs in the seventh inning off the back end of the Milwaukee bullpen. The seven runs came courtesy of some 1980s-style Cardinals baseball: hits and walks, not home runs. The rally:

Earlier in the game, Paul Goldschmidt slugged his ninth home run, and Dexter Fowler hit his first on his way to a 4-for-5 night. Fowler is hitting .313 / .403 / .433 and even playing center again with Harrison Bader and Tyler O'Neill on the IL. Is he back after a terrible 2018? I'm not quite so sure. We don't have updated statcast numbers after this game, but heading for it, his average exit velocity was actually lower than last season, and he had been credited with zero barrels. He presumably has one after his home run, and just seeing that ".313" mark next to his name has something for his confidence.

By the way, if it seems like relief pitching in general has been worse this season , it has. Bullpen ERAs are up from 4.07 to 4.39. Starts ERAs, meanwhile, are almost the same: 4.19 in 2018 and 4.21 in 2019.

Pirates suffer double loss: Joe Musgrove was sailing along with a 4-1 lead in the seventh inning when he allowed Clint Hurdle went to the bullpen. Kyle Crick entered, and J.R. Murphy reached on a bundle single, and Blake Swihart opened on an infield single, and the floodgates opened, as the Diamondbacks scored seven in the inning and four more in the eighth.

Worse, reliever Nick Burdi crumpled to the ground in pain after throwing a pitch in the eighth. Burdi reached the majors last year after coming back from Tommy John surgery in 2017 and was looking like a key in the Pittsburgh bullpen, with 17 strikeouts in 8 innings entering this game.

Pain. "It's really quiet right now around the whole clubhouse," Musgrove said after the game.

Polanco punishes Astros: the AL Central. They beat the Astros 9-5 as Jorge Polanco went 4-for-5 with four RBIs, including this line-drive home run:

Polanco is up to .392 / .452 / .716 with 13 extra -base hits. Unlike with Fowler, the advanced metrics support the hot start with a higher exit velocity and hard-hit rate than last season. He also got the ball in the air more (31.7 percent fly ball rate compared to 19.3 percent in 2018). With Byron Buxton hitting and Jonathan Schoop off to a solid start, this lineup runs pretty deep. Heck, Jason Castro homed on Monday, and the three-headed catching platoon – Mitch Garver and Willians Astudillo being the other two backstops – is hitting a combined .373 / .443 / .806 with seven home runs and 16 RBIs. As good as Polanco has been, the best hitters on the twins have been the guys behind the plate.


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