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Harper says Greinke was aided by wide strike zone

Jul 19, 2015, 6:17 PM EDT

USA Today

Dodgers starter Zack Greinke continued a historic stretch on Sunday afternoon against the Nationals by extending his consecutive scoreless streak to 43 2/3 innings.

That’s the fourth-longest such streak since 1961 and the best since Orel Hershiser’s 59 straight in 1988. He is just the third pitcher in the Live Ball Era (since 1920) to not allow a run in six consecutive starts.

Bryce Harper said afterwards that Greinke is a great pitcher, but stopped short of giving the former Cy Young-winner too much credit. He said Greinke was aided by a wide strike zone by home plate ump Bill Miller on this particular day.

“I think he was okay. When you’re getting five to six inches off of the plate, you better win the game,” Harper said. “For me, I don’t think he was very tough. He’s a great pitcher, he does what he does, but when you’re getting six inches off the plate it’s pretty tough to face him.”

Harper struck out twice and on the second one exchanged words with Miller as he walked to the dugout. Miller threw a ball demonstrably to the Nationals dugout as Harper walked away.

Harper was clearly frustrated with the strike zone on Sunday, but explained his words about Greinke as just part of competition as professionals.

“He’s a good pitcher. He’s doing what he’s doing to help that team over there, but I don’t want to give him too much credit because I’ve gotta face him again. That’s the biggest thing. I don’t really want to give him too much credit because of that reason, but he’s a damn good pitcher,” Harper said.

Harper was asked what he thought of Greinke’s streak and he couldn’t offer much of an answer:

“I don’t know, I don’t watch him so I have no idea what he’s doing. I couldn’t tell you. Maybe ask some people on the west. I don’t really watch him, so.”

  1. texnat1 - Jul 19, 2015 at 6:38 PM

    Harp seems to make it his goal to piss of the umps. Leave that stuff to the manager (if anyone)

    • mauimo22 - Jul 19, 2015 at 9:14 PM

      I think it’s totally the other way around. Umps trying to put the young star in his “place”. I think umps in this league are, generally speaking, egomaniacs!

      • acethehammer - Jul 20, 2015 at 8:32 AM


      • Guapo - Jul 20, 2015 at 5:18 PM

        nailed it. he’s had a target on his back since day 1. succeeding anyway. he’ll start getting the calls after a few mre seasons.

  2. zmunchkin - Jul 19, 2015 at 6:38 PM

    Adrian Gonzalez was also not happy with the strike zone. Was at the game. Not sure which inning it was, but after he was called out looking for the 3rd out he stayed in the batters box looking straight at the HP umpire arguing with him for a very long time. I was surprised he was not ejected.

  3. senators69 - Jul 19, 2015 at 6:43 PM

    But Greinke was helped mostly by the Nats having four starting bats out!

    Can’t wait til Span, Rendon, Zim, Werth come back. I have more faith in Span and Rendon. I think Werth and Zim will take longer to get back to expected levels. Hope Robinson and Espi can keep it up.

    And, as other have said, once Rendon is back, I expect/hope Desi goes to the bench. Had enough of Desi…

    If Zim and Werth are slow, would not shock me to see, Robinson/Moore and Taylor replace them earlier in games.

  4. Hiram Hover - Jul 19, 2015 at 6:45 PM

    I think Scherzer was getting that same wide strike zone to lefties.

    • zmunchkin - Jul 19, 2015 at 6:55 PM

      Yup. He was. Both pitchers were getting a wider strike zone against lefties – on both sides of the plate.

      Grienke and Scherzer are both elite pitchers and for some reason umpires almost always gives elite pitchers (who don’t need it) a bigger strike zone.

  5. npb99 - Jul 19, 2015 at 6:50 PM

    On one hand I admire young Mr. Harper’s willingness to speak out against what he thinks is wrong.
    On the other hand, he should really learn to shut up too. As a group, baseball umps are the most petty, stubborn, vain, and thin-skinned bunch in sports, and they hold a grudge.

    • zmunchkin - Jul 19, 2015 at 6:57 PM

      Did he speak out? Or was he answering a reporter’s question? Makes a difference. If he was asked a question and offered no comment, it would be interpreted the same way as what he did say.

      • npb99 - Jul 19, 2015 at 7:24 PM

        If you’re quoted at length in the media, I view that as speaking out. What preceded his statements doesn’t really matter, whether direct or indirect questions or whatever. MW needs to deflect more heat off of Harper to himself.

    • mauimo22 - Jul 19, 2015 at 9:17 PM

      Yes, the umps in MLB behave like spoiled children. Would like to see Mr. Manfringinsen do something about it….soon!

    • Guapo - Jul 20, 2015 at 5:20 PM

      of course they are. Umpires are generally frustrated players on a power trip. Happens at all levels. Worst in the bigs where they can now punish a 22 year old kid making 50X what they are.

  6. Theophilus T.S. - Jul 19, 2015 at 6:57 PM

    We had Miller behind the plate a few weeks ago and he manifested total ignorance of the strike zone then, too.

    Harper’s having a wonderful season, and so on and so forth. But he has been captivated with his knowledge of the strike zone. He may chase a few high fastballs but other than that, if he thinks a pitch isn’t a strike, he won’t swing. He takes a helluva lot of strikes from umpires who disagree.

    As he is the only threat in the lineup, the Nats need Harper to be a little less choosy and expand his strike zone a bit. Fans are paying to watch him unstrap his shin guard and trot to 1B.

    Second thought for the day: if Rizzo is going to make a big play in the offseason he should get a catcher. Can’t stand watching Ramos (mostly his bat) any longer.

    • Section 222 - Jul 19, 2015 at 11:04 PM

      I understand your frustration, but not swinging at pitches out of the zone is integral to Bryce’s historic season so far. If he expands his zone, he won’t hit dingers and doubles instead of walking, he’ll just make more outs. No thanks to what you’ve suggested. Keep doing what you’re doing Bryce. I love seeing you take a walk rather than pop up because you swung at a high pitch, or strike out because you swung at something outside and low.

  7. Theophilus T.S. - Jul 19, 2015 at 6:59 PM

    “aren’t paying”

    • npb99 - Jul 19, 2015 at 7:22 PM

      Actually, that is what they are paying to see much of the time. But that’s not what they want to see. Sorry, I’m being pedantic.
      But I agree on Ramos. Overall, batting, calling games, defense, I think we’re pretty average at that position. If someone has fancy stats to prove otherwise, would be interesting to see.

  8. Sonny G 10 - Jul 19, 2015 at 7:24 PM

    “Harper to be a little less choosy and expand his strike zone a bit. Fans are[n’t] paying to watch him unstrap his shin guard and trot to 1B.”

    I have to disagree with you here, Theo. If Harper expands his strike zone, he’ll go into a Desi like slump, much like he did in previous years. The fans are not paying to see him strike out either. He needs protection in the lineup and for the umpires to call a better game.

    • Eugene in Oregon - Jul 19, 2015 at 8:06 PM


  9. NatsLady - Jul 19, 2015 at 7:28 PM

    I thought Ramos, presumably healthy, would be having a better year.

    The most discouraging this was watching Desi and Ramos come to the plate and know in advance it would be fruitless. They are “regulars.” You know that Clint Robinson, Micheal A., den Dekker, etc., are bench players. They get a smattering of hits, they do their jobs. But you assume when the regulars come back they will reclaim their positions and offense will improve. You don’t have that hope with Desi and Ramos (at least, I don’t).

    • NatsLady - Jul 19, 2015 at 7:29 PM

      *this = THING

    • natsnatsnatswoo - Jul 19, 2015 at 7:49 PM

      If Ramos hadn’t gone through the whole kidnapping thing a few years ago, he’d be about as (un)popular with the fanbase now as Desmond is.

      • thewerthwhisperer - Jul 19, 2015 at 8:22 PM

        not only do I disagree, but the comment is ill-advised

  10. rlndtln - Jul 19, 2015 at 8:17 PM

    Theo.It is the exact opposite of what you say.If you swing at pitches 5inches off the plate the pitcher will have you swing at 6 inches off and you wide up with Desi and the others on our team who never get a strike because they swing at balls.

  11. Theophilus T.S. - Jul 19, 2015 at 9:00 PM

    I never said he needs to swing at pitches five inches out of the zone. I’m saying he needs to be a little less choosy. He shouldn’t turn up his nose at something he can hit and the man behind the plate can call a strike.

  12. mauimo22 - Jul 19, 2015 at 9:20 PM

    Nats are not an elite team yet. Eliteness is had by winning series from division leaders and putting away pitiful teams like the Reds. I expect the Mets series to go the same as the last 2 days.

    • adcwonk - Jul 19, 2015 at 10:43 PM

      I guess the Cards aren’t an elite team either, after all, they lost 3 of 4 to the Pirates last week, and couldn’t put away the Cubs either (2 of 4).

      And I guess the Pirates aren’t, as today they just finished getting swept by the lowly Brewers.

      And I guess the Dodgers aren’t either — as they lost 2 of 3 to the Mets two weeks ago.

      Or maybe a single series in July is the definition of small sample size.

      • Sonny G 10 - Jul 20, 2015 at 1:34 AM

        Right on, Wonk!

      • zmunchkin - Jul 20, 2015 at 9:18 AM


        (and for those of you who are not geeks or wonks, 1E6 = 1,000,000)





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