Phils, Giants benches clear after up-and-in pitches to Harper

May 30th, 2024

SAN FRANCISCO -- The benches cleared in the top of the fourth inning in the Phillies’ 6-1 win over the Giants at Oracle Park on Wednesday afternoon after Philadelphia first baseman took objection to back-to-back up-and-in fastballs from San Francisco starter .

With runners on second and third and a 1-2 count, Harrison brushed Harper back with a 94.1 mph heater. Harper jawed at Harrison after that pitch, then stepped back into the box only to nearly get hit by the next one. While Harper conferred with home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn, both benches and bullpens emptied.

“He had one up and in. He had some words," Phillies right fielder Nick Castellanos said. "Another one went up and in, and everything just kind of happened. It’s not a logical time for thinking. The pitch is fast. It’s coming up by your head. It’s scary."

Interestingly, the incident marked seven years to the day since another memorable benches-clearing brawl involving Bryce Harper and the Giants. On May 29, 2017, Harper (then with the Nationals) charged the mound after Giants reliever Hunter Strickland hit him in the hip with a fastball. That had been the first matchup between the two of them since the 2014 National League Division Series, when Harper hit a long home run off Strickland and stared at him while rounding the bases.

There was no personal history at play on Wednesday, although Harper welcomed Harrison to the big leagues with a two-run homer in the 22-year-old left-hander's MLB debut last August at Citizens Bank Park.

Harrison said he was pitching Harper inside because he believed that was the best way to attack him. When Harrison misses his spots, it tends to be arm-side and up, which can really run in on left-handed hitters like Harper.

"Maybe it missed a little in," Harrison said. "But I mean, I don't know. I'm trying to get him out, man. That's a good player, so got to put it in spots where he might not be happy."

Harper, though, has had some bad experiences being hit at the plate. He was struck in the face in April 2021 and was fortunate to avoid serious injury, but he had to miss two months in ‘22 after a hit-by-pitch fractured his left thumb, requiring surgery.

“It’s just kind of emotional at the time, right?," Harper said. "He comes up and in once, and you don’t want to get hit in the face again. I mean, you get hit in the face. It’s just not fun."

Harper's helmet flew off his head when he veered back on the second up-and-in pitch, leading those in the visitors' dugout to believe that the incident was more serious than it actually was.

“I think our guys were a little bit upset that he came up and in a couple of times on Harp," Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. "It looked worse than it was because the helmet flipped, and that’s when it broke. It looked from our vantage point that he got hit there."

Giants third baseman Matt Chapman, who talked with Harper while the benches cleared in an effort to help deescalate the situation, said both sides appeared to realize early on that there was not going to be a full-on brawl.

"It wasn't like [Harrison] tried to hit him and [Harper] was going to charge the mound or something," Chapman said. "I think it was [the Phillies] trying to support him. I don't think that they came out there with any intentions of actually trying to fight or do anything like that. Luckily, nothing bad happened."

Aside from some light shoving, there was not much physicality, and no ejections were issued, though both benches were issued warnings. The initial hit-by-pitch call was overturned upon review, and Harper's at-bat ended with a groundout to shortstop.

Harrison had struck out Harper twice, both on four-seamers, in two prior trips to the plate before the fourth inning. Harper was later shown bashing the dugout bench with his bat after he went down swinging in the first, and he finished the game with three strikeouts and an RBI single in his final at-bat.

"I know we punched him out a couple times prior, so maybe he was a little bit frustrated," Giants catcher Curt Casali said. "But it's scary when you get a ball at your face. I can understand where he's coming from. To his credit, I think after the reaction, I think he handled it really, really well."