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'Fired up' Harper ejected after arguing call

Nats star disagrees with home-plate umpire; club rallies after his departure
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Before the Nationals' 8-5 victory over the Brewers on Wednesday night, Bryce Harper got pumped up from listening to Logic and Chance the Rapper in the clubhouse. After hearing "5AM" by Logic, Harper called his brother, Bryan.

"Man," Harper said, "I'm so fired up to play today."

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WASHINGTON -- Before the Nationals' 8-5 victory over the Brewers on Wednesday night, Bryce Harper got pumped up from listening to Logic and Chance the Rapper in the clubhouse. After hearing "5AM" by Logic, Harper called his brother, Bryan.

"Man," Harper said, "I'm so fired up to play today."

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Harper displayed that adrenaline in the eighth inning, when home-plate umpire Chris Segal ejected him for arguing a strike call. Harper is the only player in the Majors to be ejected twice this season, but he energized his teammates to rally for six more runs in the frame during Washington's victory at Nationals Park.

"I'd rather have a guy who plays with emotions than a guy who plays with no emotions," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "I'll take that guy every day. You don't have to pump him up to get him psyched to play. The first pitch on him in a big situation was questionable, and that's what he objected to, and then he struck out. That just sends his emotions to the top and over the top."

Video: MIL@WSH: Harper singles to extend his hitting streak

After Segal called left-hander Josh Hader's second pitch to Harper a strike, Harper put his bat down, yelled and tried to gain his composure by walking around the plate.

That pitch put Harper in a 1-1 count. Harper continued to talk to himself after he swung on the next pitch. Then, when Harper swung and missed on the following pitch, he threw his bat on the ground and kicked the dirt.

Segal then handed Harper his 10th career ejection, causing the 24-year-old to yell in the umpire's face.

Harper said he asked Segal during that encounter why he got ejected, explaining how he thought that was the second time Segal called a strike outside of the strike zone. Segal disagreed. So, Harper reached toward the dirt and said, "Well, there was one."

Teammate Daniel Murphy rushed out of the Nats' dugout to pull Harper away.

"I don't know if he tossed me because I kicked the dirt or he thought I was yelling at him, but at that point I was not trying to yell at him," Harper said. "I was just pretty fired up about striking out in a big situation like that."

Harper's at-bat came with the game tied at 2 and runners on the corners with one out. After his ejection, the Nationals rallied for six runs to take an 8-2 lead, beginning with Ryan Zimmerman's tiebreaking two-run double right after Harper's at-bat.

"You just saw how much Bryce cares in the moment right there," Murphy said. "Unfortunately, he didn't get the job done, but you know, you saw how much passion and how much he cares about the ballclub. And then Zim comes up and picks him up."

The controversial strike call -- a 97.4 mph fastball from Hader -- appeared to be just at the bottom of the strike zone, according to Statcast™.

"Yeah, I thought it was borderline," Hader said. "But that's not my decision to make. I throw it over the plate and let the umpire do that."

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound outfielder was last ejected and suspended three contests for his brawl with Hunter Strickland on May 29, and he was tossed twice last season.

Harper, who extended his hit streak to 18 games in the first, is one of Washington' three healthy outfielders. However, the Nationals called up outfielder Andrew Stevenson on Sunday for his first Major League appearance, and the 23-year-old manned right field in the ninth.

Harper was happy the team rallied without him, but he might need to change his pregame playlist to avoid another outburst.

"I guess I need to mix in some Temptations," Harper said, "and some of those jazz bands to calm me down a little bit."

Kyle Melnick is a reporter for MLB.com based in Washington.

Washington Nationals, Bryce Harper