Kyle Schwarber hit a home run, Bryce Harper was ejected, but the Phillies lost to the Pirates

Kyle Schwarber hit a home run, Bryce Harper was ejected, but the Phillies lost to the Pirates

Philadelphia: Phillies’ 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, Kyle Schwarber hit his 46th home run, matching his NL-leading total from last year. Schwarber’s homer came in the first inning with a shot into the second deck. In the eighth inning, Trea Turner stole third base and scored on a wild throw by catcher Jason Delay, narrowing the score to 3-2.

However, the game’s drama unfolded when Bryce Harper appeared to check his swing on a full count against Luis L. Ortiz in the fourth inning. Third base umpire Ángel Hernández called Harper out, leading to Harper’s anger. Harper vehemently argued with Hernández, pointing and shouting as he walked down the baseline. Manager Rob Thomson had to intervene to separate them. Harper then stormed back to the dugout, tossing his helmet over the protective netting and into the stands.

Harper expressed his frustration with the call, emphasizing that while he understands the need to uphold a certain mentality in the big leagues, there are times when a call is so bad that it’s just plain wrong.

The thrown helmet was found and retrieved by 10-year-old Hayden Dorfman from Voorhees, New Jersey. Team personnel later recovered the helmet and returned it to the child, with Bryce Harper’s signature on it.

Bryce Harper expressed his frustration with the umpire’s call, stating, “It’s just bad, just all around.” He explained the situation, mentioning that he was in a crucial at-bat, facing a pitcher he had never encountered before. Harper had worked the count to 3-2 and was anticipating a slider down and in, but he believed the pitch didn’t cross the plate for strike three. He was in the process of taking off his gear when he heard the crowd’s reaction and realized he had been called out. He couldn’t believe it, saying, “There’s no way.”

Harper went on to criticize umpire Ángel Hernández, suggesting that such situations involving questionable calls from him occur repeatedly. He even anticipated receiving a fine for speaking out, stating, “I’m probably going to get a letter from Michael Hill and I’m gonna get fined for being right again. It’s the same thing over and over and over and over again, and it’s just not right.”

Zack Wheeler, in his last preparatory outing before taking the mound in Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series on Tuesday, recorded five strikeouts and threw 67 pitches over four innings. The 33-year-old pitcher has proven to be a valuable asset since signing his $118 million, five-year contract before the 2020 season. He has consistently performed as a dependable force at the top of the rotation, making 30 or more starts for the second consecutive season. Wheeler also had an impressive 2021 season, finishing as the runner-up for the NL Cy Young Award, and he achieved 200 strikeouts in both 2021 and 2023.

Manager Rob Thomson praised Zack Wheeler’s contract, stating, “What a great contract.” He emphasized that Wheeler has delivered exceptional value, contributing with numerous wins, a high volume of innings pitched, and clutch performances in significant games. Thomson expressed that Wheeler has justified every penny of his contract through his on-field contributions.

On a chilly evening at Citizens Bank Park, Zack Wheeler allowed just one run. The game drew a crowd of 34,046 fans, bringing the Phillies’ final home attendance for the season to 3,052,605 – the highest since they last reached the 3 million mark in 2013.

The Phillies had a strong record at home, finishing with a 49-32 record, and they still have at least two more games to play in Philadelphia next week. Last season, they won six consecutive playoff games at home before losing Game 4 of the World Series.

Manager Rob Thomson recalled how opposing coaches had described playing a postseason game at Citizens Bank Park as “four hours of hell.” He emphasized that a day at the ballpark is about more than just witnessing great plays by players like Schwarber and Harper. It’s about feeling like part of the Phillies community. Thomson expressed gratitude to team employees and gameday staff for their contributions to creating a welcoming and enjoyable atmosphere for fans. He acknowledged that the fan experience is a critical aspect of the team’s success and thanked everyone involved in making it possible.

Jared Triolo contributed two RBIs, and Jack Suwinski provided a single that drove in a run for the Pirates. Luis L. Ortiz (5-5) recorded four strikeouts in five innings on the mound.

David Bednar secured the victory, navigating a leadoff walk in the ninth inning to earn his 38th save out of 41 opportunities.

The loss was credited to Matt Strahm (9-5).

Phillies public address announcer Dan Baker has announced his intention to return for the 2024 season, marking his 52nd season with the team. Baker does not include the COVID-19 impacted 2020 season in his count, as he temporarily stepped away due to a battle with cancer. His goal is to establish a new record for the most years served as a PA announcer for a single team. Currently, he ranks behind Pat Piper of the Chicago Cubs (1916-1974) and Bob Sheppard of the New York Yankees (1951-2007) in terms of longevity.

The Pittsburgh Pirates will conclude their season with a three-game home series against the Miami Marlins. As of now, neither team has announced their starting pitchers for these games.

On the other hand, the Philadelphia Phillies will have one final series before the postseason as they travel to New York for a three-game set against the Mets. The Phillies will have right-handed pitcher Taijuan Walker (15-5, 4.35 ERA) on the mound. The New York Mets have not yet named their starting pitcher for this series.