Multiple levels of frustration in Phillies' final game at Coors Field


The Phillies had their opportunities, as the broadcasters like to say.

Some they didn’t cash in.

Some, they believed, were snatched away from them by the umpires.

That frustration led to a wild scene during a 4-0 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field on Sunday afternoon. Just when fans normally would have been getting out of their seats for the seventh inning stretch, Bryce Harper rushed the field, screaming at Colorado reliever Jake Bird. Harper had to be restrained as both benches emptied.

The stage for those fireworks was set after Bird came on in relief of starter Kyle Freeland with a four-run lead and gave the Phillies renewed hope by walking Alec Bohm and Brandon Marsh to start the inning. Edmundo Sosa was at the plate, to be followed by the top of the order.

Except Sosa grounded into a double play. Or did he? The Phillies weren’t convinced that Rockies second baseman Harold Castro’s foot was in contact with the base while he was in possession of the ball or that Sosa hadn’t beaten the relay throw to first.

But crew chief Jeff Nelson ruled that the Phillies had violated the new speed-up rules by not declaring their intention to send the play back to New York for review quickly enough.

By then, manager Rob Thomson had already been ejected an inning earlier for arguing a called third strike. After the game, he shared his understanding of what happened with reporters:

“(Acting manager Mike Calitri) went to the phone. Evidently, the plate umpire was looking at him. And from the phone, he (signaled for a review). And nobody moved. So Kevin (Long, the hitting coach, also signaled). It’s really supposed to come from the manager, but you’ll see across the league where it comes from bench coaches at times.

“Then when (Calitri) went out to tell him we wanted to challenge both sides of the call, the entire play, they said you can’t challenge.”

So the Phillies were already on edge when Bryson Stott flied out to end the inning. Then Bird, also full of adrenaline, yelled something toward the Phillies’ bench and wslapped his glove several times while grinning broadly. Some thought he might have even stuck out his tongue.

It was on. No punches were thrown but both Harper and Bird were ejected.

“I understand getting fired up,” Harper told reporters after the game. “But when you make it about the other team or yourself and the other team, that’s when I kind of have a problem with it. You saw my reaction. I wasn’t very happy.

“He gestured and after that I went out there just to go. J.T. (Realmuto) was right behind me, Taijuan (Walker), the same thing. So I just appreciate my teammates for coming out with me. Heat of the moment, that kind of thing. Once we got out there he kind of flew into the dugout and just went away and nobody really saw him after he did what he did.”

Harper, less than two weeks from being activated following Tommy John surgery, understands why the first thought observers might have had was that he was risking reinjuring his elbow.

“I get that,” he said. “I never want to put myself in danger or anything like that. But when anybody does something like that, I don’t agree with that, it’s kind of hard not to react.”

Said Thomson: “It’s a little bit unsettling, considering Harper’s elbow. You never want to see your star player get thrown out of the game. But … he’s protecting his teammates. That’s what this group does. And I’m proud of them for it. He’s an emotional guy and he was sticking up for his teammates.

“Boys will be boys. Things happen.”

That came one inning after Thomson himself was also tossed while protecting left fielder Kyle Schwarber, who was disputing a called third strike call.

Again, it happened with a runner in scoring position — Nick Castellanos, who reached second on a throwing error with one out.

On a 3-2 count, Schwarber dropped his bat and started toward first on a pitch he thought was high, but home plate ump Ron Wills rang him up. While the left fielder  argued, Thomson hustled out of the dugout and quickly got the thumb.

“The pitch was up. And it changes the inning,” the manager said. “If he walks there, possibly something gets going. That changes the inning and that’s what I said to him. There was more to it than that, but that’s the gist of it. And I didn’t want Schwarber to get thrown out.”

Replays appeared to show that the pitch to Schwarber was a ball, that Castro may well have not had his foot on the base and that Sosa was out at first. But even if all of those calls had gone in the Phillies’ favor, that’s not why their season-high five-game losing streak was ended.

The Phillies lost because they went 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

They had their chances. They just didn’t take advantage of them.

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