The reason Bryce Harper lost his cool in San Francisco makes perfect sense

You can't blame Harper after hearing his explanation for causing the bench-clearing scene at Oracle Park.
Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper
Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Bryce Harper / Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

In Wednesday’s series finale against the San Francisco Giants, tempers flared after Bryce Harper took exception to two inside pitches from pitcher Kyle Harrison. Harper exchanged words with Harrison which caused the benches and bullpens to clear as both teams looked to defend their teammates.

No punches were thrown and no players were ejected from the game. After this brush-up, the teams went back to playing baseball and the drama subsided.

The timing of the scuffle is interesting, as Harper’s infamous fight with Hunter Strickland as a member of the Washington Nationals took place on the same date in 2017 at Oracle Park in San Francisco. While the incidents were completely unrelated, it shows that he has a history with the San Francisco Giants, a team that he was linked to in 2019 before he signed with the Phillies.

The reason Bryce Harper lost his cool in San Francisco makes perfect sense

“He (Harrison) wasn’t meaning to … he didn’t mean to," Harper said of the incident after the game, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer's Scott Lauber. "I just don’t want to get hit in the face again. That’s about it. I just don’t want to get hit in the face.”

In 2021, Harper was hit by a 96 mph fastball by St. Louis Cardinals reliever Genesis Cabrera in the face. He left the game in this case but fortunately did not spend any time on the injured list. A year later, he was hit by a 97 mph fastball from (then) Padres pitcher Blake Snell, causing him to break his thumb. This injury landed Harper on the injured list, which put him out for two months and pumped the brakes on a hot start to the season.

Given Harper’s history of injuries, it makes sense that he was frustrated with Wednesday’s incident. Combine this incident with his ejection in Colorado and recent absence due to migraines, it seems like all of these instances are taking a toll on Harper.

The Phillies are clearly a different team without Bryce Harper

Since 2023, they are just 21-20 when he is out of the lineup, compared to 108-70 with him in action. He knows how much he means to this team, and with the team off to a hot start in 2024, they can ill afford to lose him for a long period of time. With Trea Turner already on the IL, it's important for the Phillies to stay as healthy as possible to keep ahead of the Atlanta Braves, who are dealing with several significant injuries of their own.

The Phillies dodged a bullet with Harper avoiding injury and ejection. Harper isn't expected to be fined or suspended for his role in the incident, as he only exchanged words with Harrison and didn't throw any punches or escalate the situation beyond the dialogue. 

The Phillies went on to win the game by a final score of 6-1, avoiding a series sweep. Having Harper in the lineup for the upcoming stretch will be key as the Phillies return home for a six-game homestand against the Cardinals and Brewers. They look to get back to their winning ways after a disappointing 2-4 road trip.