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Bryce Harper, Matt Williams explain their ejections

Home plate umpire Rob Drake ejects Bryce Harper (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
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Home plate umpire Rob Drake called Harper out on strikes instantly after the disputed swing. Normally, the home plate umpire appeals to the first or third base umpire for help. The third base umpire has a better view of Harper’s swing and makes the call. That there was no appeal, however, angered Harper, as did his exchange with the umpire. It all happened quickly, but Harper got in Drake’s face, shouted and was soon kicked out of the game.

“I check swung,” he said. “I really think he needs to check that, especially in that situation. It was so quick that I really believe he needs to check that. I really think every call like that needs to be checked. I think there’s a lot of guys in this league that think the same thing I’m thinking.”

Harper said he told the Drake: “‘You’re gonna have to check it.’ 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. 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.”

Asked if he should have controlled his emotions in a tie game, Harper stuck firmly to his argument. He truly believed Drake was wrong in not appealing and he needed to stand up for himself. Oddly enough, Drake appealed to the first and third base umpires on close calls the rest of the game.

“That’s another pitch I can see,” Harper said. “If the guy at third base bangs me, I’m going to walk back to the dugout and whatever. But I’m standing there and he calls it immediately. He’s not checking. I really believe he needs to check that. I could possibly get another pitch and see another pitch in the zone and I didn’t get that.”

Once Manager Matt Williams saw Harper’s reaction, he ran out of the dugout. Williams could do little to help — Harper was tossed from the game before Williams did anything — but he needed to stand up for Harper, or at least try to.

“After the fact, I’m going out there to protect Bryce,” Williams said. “If he gets kicked out of the game, he gets kicked out but nothing further than that. … If [Drake] calls [for an appeal], generally there’s no argument there.”

But Williams wasn’t thrilled that Harper got himself tossed from the tie game. Williams argued with Drake and was soon kicked out of the game himself. But in the top of the ninth inning with the bases loaded and one out, Harper’s spot came up. His replacement, Michael A. Taylor, hit a huge go-ahead grand slam but, really, it should have been Harper batting in in his own spot.

Harper is the best player on the team and the most dangerous hitter. It is okay to show emotion and sticking to your beliefs is good — Drake should have appealed to third base umpire Gabe Morales –but Harper should find a way to stay in the game when his team needs him.

“He’s a valuable part of our team,” Williams said.

Wednesday’s ejection was Williams’s third as a manager and only Harper’s fourth, and his first since July 2013.

“He’s been real good all season,” Williams said of Harper. “He’s passionate. But he’s been really good all season about it but today it went over.”

Taylor — as Jayson Werth later said, got Harper off the hook — when he smashed a grand slam and powered the Nationals to a 9-6 victory. Harper wanted to be in that position himself in the ninth inning but his emotions cost him that chance.

“Of course I want to be up there in that situation but Mike, in that situation, I guess I owe him a steak dinner,” Harper said. “He did what he did up there to get that W. Tipping my cap to Mikey and I’m glad he came through for us.”

IN THE POST

Bryce Harper should have been batting in the top of the ninth. But because of his ejection, Michael A. Taylor filled in and provided a grand slam in a wild 9-6 win.

IN THE JOURNAL

How does Stephen Strasburg overcome his career-worst slump?

Clint Robinson becomes first Nationals position player to pitch in a game

NATIONALS MINOR LEAGUES

Gwinnett 2, Syracuse 1: Taylor Jordan gave up only one run on six hits over eight strong innings. He walked none and struck out four. His ERA is down to 2.45. Eric Fornataro allowed a run and took the loss. Ian Stewart went 2 for 5.

Harrisburg 4, Reading 3: Brian Rauh allowed one run on four hits over six innings. Abel de los Santos and Brian Dupra fired scoreless innings. Kevin Keyes went 3 for 4 with a two-run homer.

Wilmington 3, Potomac 2: Nick Pivetta gave up two runs, one earned, over six innings. Jake Johansen allowed one over 3 1/3 innings of relief. Isaac Ballou went 2 for 4.

Hagerstown was off

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