NEW YORK -- Bryce Harper's first game at Citi Field as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies began with a long rain delay and ended with a short stay. Harper was ejected in the top of the fourth inning of a 5-1 loss after chirping from the bench after he struck out looking on a high fastball.
Four batters after Harper struck out on the 2-2 pitch, during the middle of Cesar Hernandez's at-bat, umpire Mark Carlson ejected Harper. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler rushed out of the dugout to argue. Harper then sprinted out from the dugout sans helmet, and Kapler had to push him away from Carlson. Harper continued to yell and point towards Carlson and had to be restrained.
"It just can't happen," Harper said. "In a game like that against the Mets, division rival, things like that, it just can't happen. For myself and this team, as well. We're a better team with me in the lineup, and I gotta stay in that game."
Phillies starter Jake Arrieta agreed.
"We need him in right field," he told reporters after the game. "I don't care how bad (the ump) is, I need him in right field, I need him at the plate and he wasn't there. So that hurts. He missed some pitches but for both sides. If that's the case, that happens on a nightly basis usually. The umpire is going to miss some calls. So what? Next pitch. We've got a game to play.
"I'm not happy with the way we showed up today. We need to come out tomorrow ready to go."
It was Harper's 12th career ejection and, incredibly, the first Phillies player to get ejected from a game since Justin De Fratus on June 16, 2015. Harper is second among active players in ejections, trailing only Matt Kemp, who has 14 and entered the majors six years before Harper.
"I have to stay in that game for the organization, the fans. I have to do better," Harper said. "These games matter. They matter now, they matter in September."
Kapler didn't believe Harper deserved to be ejected. "There was normal chirping from the dugout that is in every dugout every single night," he said. "It was no different."
Kapler said the Phillies were not happy with Carlson's strike zone: "Our dugout did not agree with a lot of Mark's calls. I think everyone can go back and look at the game and form their own opinions."
The pitch Carlson rung up Harper on was a fastball up in the zone and on the outside corner, but certainly a reasonable call according to strike-zone data. A previous called strike in the at-bat was even more borderline at the top of the zone.
Harper didn't say much to Carlson as he walked to the dugout after the call, but he apparently kept yelling from the bench. He had also struck out in the first inning, taking two pitches for strikes from Steven Matz and then swinging through a 2-2 slider.
Harper is hitting .272/.410/.531 but has struck out 29 times in 22 games and is on pace for 213 strikeouts. He fanned a career-high 169 times last season in 159 games.