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A grand conclusion to a wild ballgame

May 13, 2015, 9:18 PM EST

USA Today Sports Images

PHOENIX — Michael Taylor strode to the plate in the top of the ninth Wednesday afternoon, the bases loaded with Nationals in a tight ballgame, and every one of the 19,026 souls at Chase Field had to have the same reaction.

Of course it would happen like this. Really, could you have expected anything else?

Only two innings earlier, Taylor was underneath the first-base stands, stretching his legs for what he assumed could be a potential pinch-running opportunity at some point. Except out on the field, Bryce Harper was livid with Rob Drake, going face-to-face with the plate umpire and his refusal to appeal to third base on a check-swing call that ended the top of the seventh.

Harper quickly got the heave-ho from Drake, as did manager Matt Williams, who raced out of the dugout to stand up for his young star. And so it was that Taylor found himself taking over in right field for the bottom of the inning, now serving as the Nationals’ cleanup hitter for the first time in his career.

And wouldn’t you know he would then find himself at the plate in the ninth, the bases full, the Nats trailing by a run, then proceed to launch the first grand slam of his career, a towering blast to center field that delivered a dramatic, 9-6 victory over the Diamondbacks?

“Of course I want to be up there in that situation,” Harper said. “But, Mike … I guess I owe him a steak dinner.”

It was a stunning, yet fitting, way to cap a bizarre series in the desert, one that featured a blowout win by each club, then a wild, back-and-forth affair in the finale. In the end, the Nationals emerged with their 12th win in 15 games, their fifth consecutive series victory.

“I think we got fortunate in that one,” Williams said. “They had a lot of opportunity. We allowed them a lot of opportunity. We were able to get the last swing. … But we were fortunate to win that one.”

The pivotal moment appeared to come during Harper’s seventh-inning at-bat, during what was then a 5-5 game. Harper tried to check his swing on a 2-2 pitch outside from lefty Oliver Perez, but Drake rung him up, insisting he hadn’t held up his swing. Harper immediately argued, telling the plate umpire he should’ve appealed to Gabe Morales at third base, as is typically custom on such check-swings.

Drake’s response, according to Harper: “You’re really gonna act like that?”

That only fired up Harper more, leading to a face-to-face argument and the fourth ejection of his career (first since 2013).

“I didn’t like that comment from him,” Harper said. “I don’t like getting talked down to by an umpire. I respect the umpires as much as I can, but to tell me I’m going to act like that, I gave him a piece of my mind.”

By the time Williams sprinted from the dugout, it was too late to save Harper from getting booted from the game but possibly not too late to save the young star from something worse. That, though, led to Williams’ ejection as well, his third since becoming Nationals manager last year.

“I’m going out there to protect Bryce,” Williams said. “If he gets kicked out of the game, he gets kicked out. But I don’t want anything further than that.”

Once Harper and Williams retreated to the clubhouse to watch the rest of the game out of public view, Taylor took over in right field and bench coach Randy Knorr took over as manager. Knorr needed his bullpen to keep the game tied, but after a couple of escape acts, Aaron Barrett couldn’t finish the job, surrendering a 2-out RBI single to Yasmany Tomas in the bottom of the eighth, giving Arizona a 6-5 lead and leaving the Nationals three outs from defeat.

They still had one more rally in them, though, beginning with Denard Span’s 1-out single off embattled Diamondbacks closer Addison Reed. Yunel Escobar followed with another single, then Jayson Werth battled to draw a walk and load the bases for the Nats’ cleanup hitter … who was not named Harper anymore but instead was the 23-year-old Taylor.

More than a few in the park had a hunch things would play out exactly like that.

“Oh yeah, that always crosses your mind, especially when you got a guy hitting 3-4-5 for you,” Werth said. “You want him in there at the end of the game, but luckily it worked out for us. Mikey got him off the hook.”

Indeed he did. Taylor blasted Reed’s 1-0 fastball at the knees to center field, reaching a cut-out in the giant batter’s eye high above the 407-foot mark. It was his first career at-bat with the bases loaded, and it produced the ultimate result.

“I was trying not to be too aggressive and chase something out of the zone,” Taylor said. “I kind of had my one spot, and if he threw it there, I was going to take a hack at it.”

After circling the bases, Taylor was greeted by an excitable group of teammates, who pounded him in celebration. The guy who really wanted to thank him, of course, wasn’t allowed to be in the dugout anymore.

Harper, though, will show his appreciation for his teammate with that steak dinner. Even though Taylor had a hunch Harper would’ve one-upped him had he been the one at the plate late Wednesday afternoon instead.

“Yeah, he probably would’ve hit it about 500 feet,” Taylor said with a smile.

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 9:41 PM

    Michael Taylor the final hero for today for the Nats was very humble. Good to see the bench contribute in such a big way today with TyMo and MAT.

  2. Candide - May 13, 2015 at 9:46 PM

    Real vulture win for Barrett, who impresses me less and less all the time.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 10:07 PM

      Did you see the chart I put up of the Tomas at-bat. Threw 6 pitches, all sliders and the one he hit for the go-ahead single was dead-red. Not good.

  3. Section 222 - May 13, 2015 at 9:46 PM

    Lombo just got thrown out at home by Jeff Francour to end the game. Phillies win 3-2. The throw was on the fly. Impressive.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 10:27 PM

      Do you prefer the “on the fly” throw instead of the “hop”

      • Joe Seamhead - May 13, 2015 at 10:40 PM

        There are times when each are the right throw. Is this going to be a pi–ing contest every time someone makes one, or the other? Almost every day someone is thrown out at the plate, or at third by throws on the fly, and thrown purposely on the bounce.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 13, 2015 at 10:52 PM

        +1

      • Section 222 - May 13, 2015 at 11:24 PM

        Ghost, not really because on many plays to do it on the fly you have to throw it over the cutoff man’s head. Obviously on this play there was no need to make the throw “cut-offable”, plus Frenchy has one of the best arms in baseball. I commented on it mostly because I thought it might inspire the pissing contest that Joe refers to, and that can be pretty entertaining. 🙂

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 11:30 PM

        Yah, sure.

        Where was all the jeers about Lobaton not handling the hop throw from Werth. Not only didn’t he catch it but he let it get by him.

        I give him a pass on not catching it but you then have to block it.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 14, 2015 at 7:49 AM

        Been watching just a few highlights on MLB Network. That Francoeur play in foul territory was nice. Giancarlo Stanton also threw out a runner on a fly at home in the Dodgers game and in the Seattle game Nelson Cruz from rightfield threw out a runner on the fly at 3rd base.

      • Section 222 - May 14, 2015 at 8:40 AM

        The Francour play was a beauty, but as you could see from the hightlight, the throw was way, way over the head of the cutoff man. In that situation, of course, there was no need for a cutoff, but isn’t that a good reason to make the throw lower and bounce it in most situations?

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 14, 2015 at 8:02 AM

        Add one more as I just saw the Angels highlights. In the 11th inning, Trout just threw out a runner on a rope at home. Phil Cuzzi called the runner safe but it was overturned on the video review.

      • Hiram Hover - May 14, 2015 at 8:27 AM

        Is this going to be a pi–ing contest every time someone makes one, or the other?

        It appears Ghost is answering in the affirmative.

    • Joe Seamhead - May 14, 2015 at 12:13 AM

      Steve, just curious if you read the link I posted yesterday regarding bouncing a throw in vs. air mailing it? It explains why a properly thrown bounce is the correct throw, most of the time. You accused me of making stuff up when I said that there were drills that players work on to bounce the throw in. You may not believe me, but they really do have such drills at every level of baseball.Somebody has the job to yell “cut,” or not, to the infielder.I have never claimed that the “on the fly” was never the right throw, but it isn’t the right throw most of the time. The catcher should be able to make both plays, if the ball comes in correctly. Too short of a hop, like Werth’s throw today is pretty tough on the catcher. That’s why, along with it being slightly off target, Werth got charged with the error today. There were no jeers on Loboton today because it (rightfully) wasn’t his miscue,though I agree he should’ve been able to block it.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 14, 2015 at 8:01 AM

        I don’t get your double standard with the Lobaton play. That was an online throw from Werth to Lobo and it hopped and Lobo couldn’t handle it. How was that play different from the one that Espi threw to Ramos that bounced.

        Been watching just a few highlights on MLB Network. That Francoeur play in foul territory was nice with a throw on a line to his catcher to get Lombo at the plate. Giancarlo Stanton also threw out a runner on a fly at home in the Dodgers game and in the Seattle game Nelson Cruz from rightfield threw out a runner on the fly at 3rd base. Mike Trout from CF threw out a runner on a rope too which got top defensive plays and it was a huge play in the 11th inning and had to be overturned as the runner was called safe initially.

        Bryce made the right throw to Espi who cut it off but Espi has to be able to throw that 120 feet without bouncing it. These highlights you watch night after night are big arms making big plays.

        In High School, travel ball, Little League these kids are taught to hit their cutoff man on a rope. If the ball isn’t cut I do expect the ball to hop as these players don’t have the arms to get it in on a dead rope.

      • Joe Seamhead - May 14, 2015 at 8:56 AM

        Double standard? Werth’s throw was meant to be a bounce throw. It came in too close and bounced too high for the catcher to handle, thus the error. Werth has throw out a ton of runners from RF using the same technique. His one from left yesterday wasn’t perfect. If you don’t get it, you just don’t get it. This whole crap with us started because Ramos dropped a perfectly thrown pea from Denard Span last year, in a game that Wilson also had another defensive gaffe, went 0-6 at the plate and I said that Ramos had a bad game. You act like a child on this by pointing out every throw made to the plate on the fly. There are bounce throws made successfully every day too. By design. In the major league. There are also throws that sail over the catcher’s head. There are also strong throws made to the plate that don’t prevent the score, yet because they weren’t thrown on-line allow not only the run to score, but for other runners to advance to scoring position.I’m not going to point every single one out either way. We all hear from announcers, “a perfect one hop throw to the plate” every day. What you really don’t get is that it isn’t an either/or answer to being right on this. There are times when throwing directly to the base/plate in the air, is the right throw. There are times when it isn’t. If you disagree with that, then you are entitled to your opinion, wrong as it may be.

        I am often wrong on my comments made in the heat of the moment. I usually admit it when I am.

      • nataddicted - May 14, 2015 at 11:25 AM

        Wifey and I were watching that play together yesterday. I turned to her aferwards and said, “Throw or catch?” Without hesitation she said “Catch!”

        I am not so sure, it was just a tough baseball play. I don’t think there should have been an error. The hop was okay, but if JDub had made it a longer hop maybe the ball doesn’t get there. Tough play.

        Thank goodness the game didn’t turn on that one.

  4. knoxvillenat - May 13, 2015 at 9:53 PM

    Two observations, first is that umpires seem to be quick to ask for help on a check swing call when asked by the catcher but stubbornly refuse to do so when the batter asks that they seek help.

    Second, with a pinch hit homer by Tyler Moore and a game winning slam by MAT in the ninth inning, where is JayB to tell us how Rizzo has “failed” to give the Nationals a productive bench this season? He has never failed (pun intended) to be critical when convenient for his own opinions.

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 13, 2015 at 10:17 PM

      Not agreeing with it, but I think the ‘rule’ (perhaps unwritten) is that if the homeplate umpire has called it a strike he’s saying, in essence, “I saw him go around” and he’s not going to ask the 1st (or 3rd) base umpire for help, which would be to overrule him. If he hasn’t called it a strike because he didn’t see it, it’s a ball by default. But in those cases, the homeplate umps are willing to ask ‘did he go?’ of their colleagues.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 10:17 PM

      Uggla with that 3 run HR 9th inning blast in Atlanta, TyMo to tie the game today and MAT to win it with the Slam!

      I would say the bench has been winning games even though their topline stats haven’t been great. Clint Robinson is the guy you hope can step up more as we haven’t seen his power that we saw in Spring Training.

      • ehay2k - May 14, 2015 at 12:07 AM

        Clint is on the bench for his arm!

    • tcostant - May 13, 2015 at 10:31 PM

      I’ve never seen an umpire not check when a catcher asked. He already called it a swing, checking was no longer an option. The umpire should have said next time I’ll wait and check, and left it there.

      • Section 222 - May 13, 2015 at 11:32 PM

        Right. There was a way to deescalate and the ump didn’t take it.

        I think Harper’s beef was that he thought the ump should have asked for help before he called it. But as I noted on another thread, the ump doesn’t have to do that if in his view the batter intended to swing.

      • letswin3 - May 13, 2015 at 11:52 PM

        If it’s frequently a bone of contention, why not ask the rules committee to consider a new rule that would only permit check swing calls by the corner guys, and never by the guys at home and second base? That should stop a huge percentage of arguments … not that there are a lot, but they are still too frequent for my money. I’m satisfied that the umpire can’t perfectly see the pitch and the check swing length both in the same pitch … particularly when he’s behind a catcher.

      • tcostant - May 14, 2015 at 7:57 AM

        Problem with that letswin, it you would need to do it with all swing and misses, because you would need to take the option for the ump away (even on slam dunk swings). It would slow down the game and baseball uis trying to speed it up.

      • letswin3 - May 14, 2015 at 12:56 PM

        I hear ya tcostant, but how much time was wasted by the Harper outburst, MW getting out of the dugout to defend his player and getting a replacement right fielder into right field? Everyday I see catchers ask an umpire to ask for help from one of the corners … the ump points his finger, the guy at the corner raises his fist and the game proceeds … maybe a combined elapsed time of 5-6 seconds … I’ve seen Span spend much longer than that just getting into the box. And last week I saw a catcher go to the mound 3 times in one inning to chat with his pitcher … let’s limit it to one per inning and 4 per game, which will save more time than asking for corner help on check swings. If Earl Weaver would have been Harper’s manager last night, he would still be arguing, throwing things, kicking dirt and threatening the umpires masculinity at 10:30 this morning.

  5. ArVAFan - May 13, 2015 at 10:06 PM

    Wonder if MAT got the ball back? It bounced onto the field, but did the AZ’s throw it back in?

    • letswin3 - May 13, 2015 at 11:46 PM

      I saw someone flip him a ball in the dugout after his salami, but I don’t know if it was THE ball.

  6. scnatsfan - May 13, 2015 at 10:21 PM

    Anyone else having fun watching these games?

    • ArVAFan - May 14, 2015 at 7:23 AM

      +1. This semi-retirement thing works pretty well, even with day and midnight games. Methinks I might need a nap either today or tomorrow, given the time of the next two games!

  7. nattygoats - May 13, 2015 at 10:30 PM

    Me

  8. Sec 3, My Sofa - May 13, 2015 at 10:48 PM

    Once Harper and Williams retreated to the clubhouse to watch the rest of the game out of public view,

    Not sure if this is right, but FP did mention the local TV was not broadcasting this one, so there was no TV broadcast for them to see.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - May 13, 2015 at 10:51 PM

      I suppose they could easily have MLB.TV

      • Section 222 - May 13, 2015 at 11:26 PM

        I think that must be right. MW in the postgame presser was commenting on MAT’s homer as if he had seen it, not just heard the radio broadcast. I wonder if they were sitting together crowded around an iPad!

      • Bruxtun - May 14, 2015 at 12:33 PM

        They’d have been blacked out on MLB TV

    • tcostant - May 14, 2015 at 7:52 AM

      I don’t buy that all. I think every club house has directv with the MLB package and see any game.

      • homeparkdc - May 14, 2015 at 9:07 AM

        Makes sense they have something to watch replays before challenges. Wonder how big the screen is?

    • Hiram Hover - May 14, 2015 at 8:32 AM

      Also, isn’t there usually some kind of feed playing on the monitors in the concourse? They wouldn’t need DirecTV or an iPad–the clubhouse monitors would just be hardwired into whatever is playing in the stadium.

      PS – I didn’t hear FP, but it’s hard for me to believe in this day and age there is a game that doesn’t get broadcast locally.

      • soonernat - May 14, 2015 at 12:38 PM

        Yes they were broadcasting the game on monitors in the concourse. I didn’t check to see if they were broadcasting but I’ve got to believe that Fox Sports wouldn’t miss a chance to fill air time with a baseball game.

  9. Ghost of Steve M. - May 13, 2015 at 10:49 PM

    Cubs with the walkoff win. Deficit down to 1 1/2 games!

    • Joe Seamhead - May 13, 2015 at 10:51 PM

      Yep. Harvey pitched a helluva game and got nothing for it.

      • nats128 - May 13, 2015 at 11:06 PM

        Harvey with a shutout. There bullpen lost it.

    • Eugene in Oregon - May 13, 2015 at 10:51 PM

      It’s too early to worry about the standings.

      ((1.5 games back))

      Wait until Memorial Day.

      ((1.5 games back))

      Just play one game at a time.

      ((1.5 games back!))

      • adcwonk - May 13, 2015 at 11:05 PM

        – 1.5 ! 😉

      • llf0701 - May 14, 2015 at 5:05 AM

        +1
        +1

  10. Drew - May 13, 2015 at 10:52 PM

    Way to go, Cubbies.

  11. Sec 3, My Sofa - May 13, 2015 at 10:54 PM

    Meanwhile, those CHOKING DOGS just got beat in overtime.

    • nats128 - May 13, 2015 at 11:07 PM

      Sickening and CHOKING DOGS is right. Cant wait for Teds Take on this. Another 3 games to 1 lead and choked on 3 straight losses. Wiz lost also.

      • adcwonk - May 14, 2015 at 12:13 AM

        They didn’t choke — they lost in OT to a really good team. I saw the game (the second game I’ve seen all season).

      • nats128 - May 14, 2015 at 8:25 AM

        When your up 3 games to 1 and drop 3 straight games, thats known as a choke.

        They did lose to a really good team. Theres no Storen to blame, no MW to blame. No .150 batting averages to blame.

        The fact is the Rangers scored more goals in the end then the Caps.

        It was a team loss but the Caps had there chances. They had there power plays.

      • adcwonk - May 14, 2015 at 9:16 AM

        Dropping three games is not necessarily a choke by definition.

        As for this particular series, I didn’t see games 5 or 6, so I can’t say anything about it. But I saw game seven, and there was nothing, absolutely nothing, that was “choke-age” about it. Both teams played *incredible* defense. The game was tight as a drum. To say that game seven could have gone either way is a gross understatement. Lundquist (goalie for Rangers) is really really good. If Rangers wouldn’t have had three power plays in a row at the beginning of the second period, the Caps would have won.

      • nats128 - May 14, 2015 at 3:15 PM

        In the history of the NHL, 28 times there have been 3-1 leads in a playoff series in which the team up by the 3-1 game margin has lost the series. Of those 28 times, the Capitals have 5 of those historic meltdowns which is 18% of the total. When you consider that the Capitals have only been in the NHL for 40 years and the NHL is 98 years old, this is even larger in impact.

      • nats128 - May 14, 2015 at 3:29 PM

        http://www.roanoke.com/sports/aaron_mcfarling/just-one-thought-choking/article_77e83342-fa3a-11e4-b90c-e78e54fdff82.html

        This guy agrees with you but the fact is they didn’t play great defense in Game 5 when they had the lead and took that game to overtime. That took the clincher to a 3-2 series lead.

        That’s where the choke was. They didn’t play bad all series, just not good enough to win the required 4 games, but when your up 3 to 1, you have to put them away.

        I dont care about Vegas odds or how great Lundquist is, they were good enough to win 3 games and had a lead with less than 2 minutes left in game 5.

        Its part of the Choking Dogs reputation they have.

        Leonsis was letting the fanbase know his travel schedule instead of changing things up and keeping his mouth shut for once. His fanboy arrogance has to change.

      • adcwonk - May 14, 2015 at 8:18 PM

        but when your up 3 to 1, you have to put them away.

        I beg to differ. I mean, suppose the Rangers are the best team in the NHL. Then, perhaps, just being up 3 games to one is lucky.

        I noticed one of the columnists today wrote something along the lines of: “this year’s losing after 3-games-to-1 seems different than prior years.”

        I tend to agree with that. It is, sometimes the case, that the better hockey team, even if only better by a bit, can win three straight (particularly if two are at home).

      • nats128 - May 14, 2015 at 9:51 PM

        You have to finish off teams. They were less than 2 minutes away in Game 5 and had the costly breakdown on defense.

  12. Sec 3, My Sofa - May 13, 2015 at 10:55 PM

    And the Wizards lost by 1 on a last shot in game 5.

  13. manassasnatsfan - May 13, 2015 at 10:57 PM

    Go Cubs

    • nats128 - May 13, 2015 at 11:09 PM

      Cubs walked off a while ago. Familia with the loss.

      • adcwonk - May 13, 2015 at 11:16 PM

        So in the last couple of days, Familia, Chapman, and Cishek all lost?

        They’d better trade their studs for some BP help!!

      • Eugene in Oregon - May 14, 2015 at 12:08 AM

        +1

      • manassasnatsfan - May 14, 2015 at 12:27 AM

        I was cheering after the fact.

      • homeparkdc - May 14, 2015 at 9:03 AM

        Not as dramatic as the others, no loss, but SD 4 @ Sea 2 — Kimbrel gave up 2 H 1ER. SD has been using him two days consecutively so Nats may see him tonight. If so, may he have a Familia, Chapman and Cishek night.

    • Tyler Babip - May 14, 2015 at 12:53 AM

      I have Cishek, Familia, and Chapman between my two fantasy teams. Sad face. I have Bryce on both! Happy face!

  14. adcwonk - May 13, 2015 at 11:16 PM

    Wow — get a load of this line — Cory Kluber facing the Cardinals, who are only leading the entire NL in BA

    Cory Kluber, 8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 18 K’s (!!)

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 14, 2015 at 8:06 AM

      Had you seen what Kluber had done up to yesterday? Had a 5.04 ERA and had lost 5 straight games. He is now 1-5 with a 4.27 ERA.

      • virginiascopist - May 14, 2015 at 8:29 AM

        So I guess there’s hope for Stras.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - May 14, 2015 at 8:42 AM

        Apparently! Kluber didn’t forget how to pitch.

      • adcwonk - May 14, 2015 at 9:18 AM

        That’s incredible.

        The takeaway?

        All those folks that complain here “how come our team makes mediocre pitchers look like Cy Young?” should remember this game. It happens to all teams and all pitchers at some time or another.

  15. Section 222 - May 13, 2015 at 11:30 PM

    My friend who went to umpire school says that the first standard for calling a check swing a strike is whether there was an intent to swing. You don’t have to see the plane of the bat from the 3B line, or ask for help, if you believe the batter intended to swing. End of story.

    I understand why Harper was steamed, but he has to control his emotions in situations like that. He’s under a microscope, some umps still have it in for him, and he’s got to stay on the field to help us win games. That said, sure glad he got tossed today.

    • Theophilus T.S. - May 14, 2015 at 12:25 AM

      That makes absolutely no sense. If “the batter intended to swing” is the test, then no swing would ever be checked, no matter where the hitter pushed the abort button. There has to be an objective standard — no mind reading — at which point the hitter can be said to have completed the act of “swinging” even if he injures himself trying. That has to be the point where the bat has completed going through the hitting zone, i.e., the front of the plate. If the umpire thinks he can watch the pitch location and the arc of the bat at the same time, he’s delusional. Divining the batter’s “intent” is pure obfuscation of the umpire’s inability to make an objective interpretation. What MLB obfuscates is the no. of incompetent umpires.

      • manassasnatsfan - May 14, 2015 at 12:29 AM

        Correct. It would take no effort to ask.

    • masterfishkeeper - May 14, 2015 at 8:16 AM

      How do you judge intent except by the motions of the player (i.e., the plane of the bat)? Can umpires read minds?

    • Steady Eddie - May 14, 2015 at 8:36 AM

      I have to agree with MFK and believe that’s an extremely arrogant and misplaced standard for umps to be taught. What do they think this is, freaking criminal court? On what basis is it even legitimate for umps to make that call other than on the purely objective physical standard of whether the batter went around or not? How can it possibly be legitimate for umps to overrule, disregard, or minimize physical fact (in either direction) by the umps’ psychic reading of what was in the mind of the batter?

      This is not like calling fouls in soccer where intent is part of the standard.

      (Deuces, if it ain’t clear from the above, this isn’t aimed at you at all — it’s just too symptomatic of the too-often arrogant “because I’m the parent” attitude that umps seem to be encouraged to take). I suspect it’s part of their trying institutionally to rectify the imbalance of stature in their collective minds from the free agency era, but it undercuts part of the beauty of baseball in the (at least potential for) pure objectivity in the standards of and rules for performance.

      /rant

      • Section 222 - May 14, 2015 at 8:44 AM

        Personally, I tend to agree. It’s strange for the home plate ump to have one standard and the first or third place ump to have another. Personally, I think that way too many check swings are called balls though. Umps let the batters get away with murder. It’s one of the plays where the rule is the murkiest and the application is even worse.

  16. David Proctor - May 14, 2015 at 12:10 AM

    Dave commented yesterday that one of the difference between Bryce this year and Bryce previous years is that he’s getting a fair strike zone. In previous years, balls well off the plate have been called strikes. The strike zone being applied fairly has allowed him to walk.

    That can change quickly if Harper continues to act that way toward umpires.

    • manassasnatsfan - May 14, 2015 at 12:30 AM

      If the umps have that thin of skin, they are in the wrong profession.

  17. ehay2k - May 14, 2015 at 12:14 AM

    Lombo got gunned down, but it really helped that the catcher held onto the ball. /snark

    In other ex-Nat news, ALR, probably still ticked from the missed opportunity to pitch, hit a HR. And Nate Kerns pitched well and got a W for the Rays, with help from Steven Souza, who hit a HR. Lastly,Clip gave up one hit but no runs in a losing effort for Oakland.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - May 14, 2015 at 8:08 AM

      Karns pitched another really nice game.

  18. adcwonk - May 14, 2015 at 12:16 AM

    FWIW:

    1. Ump should have asked for help, but if the 3rd base had ruled it a swing, it would have been a reasonable call

    2. Ump should have asked for help, but Harper easily earned his ejection

    • manassasnatsfan - May 14, 2015 at 12:33 AM

      In basketball you get a first technical you are not thrown out.

      Only baseball rule I would Chang. Two T’s for an ejection.

      • adcwonk - May 14, 2015 at 9:19 AM

        I think allowing a player “one free blowup per game” (which is what you’re suggesting, right?) would really deteriorate the game.

    • Theophilus T.S. - May 14, 2015 at 12:34 AM

      Agree with no. 1, and probably no. 2 — but only because that’s the rule (I assume “no arguing Bs and Ks” is somewhere in the rule book. MLB may “grade” umpires but in truth there is no accountability. No umpire ever gets publicly scolded for being blind as a bat, let alone for being a jerk. No umpire gets fined for missing 20 ball-and-strike calls in a game. No umpire ever gets sent down to AAA to learn the balk rule. The guy — Deckman? — who worked behind the plate in Game 1 of the Braves series missed as many calls as he got right, but he was on the field somewhere tonight. So I think players should be allowed to vent as much as they want — maybe everything they can say in 30 seconds.

    • nataddicted - May 14, 2015 at 11:42 AM

      From James Wagner’s WaPo game-article:

      “I said, ‘You’re gonna have to check it,’ ” Harper said. “He said, ‘You’re really gonna act like that?’ I didn’t like that comment from him. I don’t like getting talked down to by an umpire.”

      A prime example of “It’s not what you say, but how you say it.”

      He earned the ejection.

      BTW, Besides Harp and MW, who’s the last Nat to get heaved?

  19. ehay2k - May 14, 2015 at 12:17 AM

    And, We are coming Mets, we are coming…

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