The Phillies were meek losers in New York last night, going down 5-1 to the Mets while putting together just three hits. It was the kind of game that can produce a lot of frustration; it did that for Bryce Harper, who got ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the fourth inning, and for Phillies starter Jake Arrieta, who took the loss after allowing three earned runs in six innings.
After the game, Arrieta partially directed his frustration at his own teammates, giving this assessment to reporters: “Dugout was flat, defense wasn’t good, didn’t throw the ball well overall.” Arrieta also had specific criticisms for Harper, which he returned to multiple times during his postgame comments:
- “We need him in right field. I don’t care how bad the umpire is, he wasn’t great for either side. I’m out there, trying to make pitches, he misses some calls, so what? We need [Harper] out there.”
- “I’m out there doing everything I can to win a game. I need my guys behind me, and they weren’t.”
- “We need him in right field. I don’t care how bad he is, I need him right field, I need him at the plate, and he wasn’t there.”
What’s noteworthy about Arrieta’s comments is that they didn’t read as a guy offhandedly blowing off some steam. They were measured and pointed, and Arrieta was a making a point of calling out Harper’s tendency to get himself thrown out of games. Perhaps this is something that Arrieta has noticed for a while, and this is him trying to make sure Harper doesn’t bring it with him to Philly.
Of course, Harper’s short temper is easier to suffer when everything is going well and the wins are piling up. The Phillies aren’t exactly struggling, they are 12-10 and tied for the division lead, but this is a team that expects to run away with the NL East title, and so any sputtering is naturally going to produce some tension.
Everything will probably be fine, though. So long as Arrieta can avoid trying to strangle Harper in the dugout, this should go down as nothing more than a blip in a successful season.