Bryce Harper after ejection in Phillies loss: Umpires 'have to be better'

Jack BaerYahoo Sports Contributor

With two weeks left in what was supposed to be a fun season for the Philadelphia Phillies, the team is 4.5 games out of the second wild-card spot and facing an uphill battle to make the playoffs.

The Phillies’ situation got even worse on Sunday, when they lost 6-3 to the Boston Red Sox at home at Citizens Bank Park. Not around for the end of the game was star outfielder Bryce Harper or manager Gabe Kapler, thanks to a wonderfully petty series of events.

Bryce Harper ejected in costly loss for Phillies

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The $330 million man was rung up in the fourth inning after home-plate umpire Gabe Morales punched him out on a fastball that looked clearly inside. Thing is, Harper’s ejection didn’t come after an argument immediately following the call.

No, Harper had to double-check something before he was ready to completely call out Morales.

From’s Mark Feinsand:

“I disagreed with that call, kind of looked back at him and said, ‘Hey, that’s not a strike,’” Harper said. “He kind of looked at me like, ‘Yeah, all right, stupid.’ Just that look. I went back and thought, ‘Maybe he’s right.’”

Harper raced back to the video room to take another look, but the video only reinforced his belief that Morales had blown the call. Harper returned to the dugout during Rhys Hoskins’ at-bat, during which he barked toward the plate, “Not even [expletive] close,” prompting Morales to eject him immediately.

Few sequences can capture Bryce Harper’s energy as much as that.

An incensed Kapler was then ejected after giving Morales a piece of his mind.

Bryce Harper's day ended early Sunday. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Bryce Harper's day ended early Sunday. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Harper was unsurprisingly unamused by the incident after the game, saying Morales simply needs to be better at his job:

“Especially in these games right now, you have to be better back there,” Harper said. “You’ve got to be better. It’s not like they’re not going to make mistakes; I miss heaters down the middle, too. It’s part of it. Just in these games right now, you have to be better.”

It was a tough day overall for the 76-72 Phillies, who lost a game in the wild-card standings due to the Chicago Cubs’ 16-6 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. They had only a 2.1 percent chance of making the playoffs entering Sunday, according to Baseball Prospectus, and might have lost a solid chunk of that.

If they want to mount some kind of miracle run, a hot streak from Harper is probably one of the best ways to do it. They just need him in for the whole game to make that possible

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