PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Kyle Schwarber went deep, Bryce Harper went off on an umpire and was ejected and Trea Turner went from second to home on a stolen base in the Philadelphia Phillies' 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday night.
Schwarber launched his 46th homer, matching last year's NL-leading total, with a first-inning drive into the second deck. Turner stole third base in the eighth and came around to score on a wild throw by catcher Jason Delay that made it 3-2. Turner became the first player to succeed on his first 30 steal attempts in a season since Carl Crawford in 2009.
But the fireworks in the regular-season home finale came when Harper seemingly held his swing on a full count against Luis L. Ortiz in the fourth inning. Harper started to remove his shin guard when third base umpire Ángel Hernández called out the slugger. Harper became enraged and pointed and shouted at Hernandez as he walked down the baseline.
Harper pointed his finger in Hernández’s face and had to be separated by manager Rob Thomson, then stormed back to the dugout and tossed his helmet over the protective netting and into the stands.
“I understand you have to live up to a certain big-leaguer mentality,” Harper said. “You have to act like it, you have to show that, so I understand that. But at the same time, when there's a call that bad, or something happens, it's just wrong. For everyone.”
The helmet was recovered by 10-year-old Hayden Dorfman, of Voorhees, New Jersey. The helmet was retrieved by team personnel and later returned to the child signed by Harper.
WHEELS IN MOTION
Zack Wheeler struck out five and threw 67 pitches over four innings in his final tune-up before he gets the ball Tuesday in Game 1 of the NL Wild Card Series. The 33-year-old Wheeler has lived up to his $118 million, five-year contract signed ahead of the 2020 season. He’s been a rock atop the rotation and made 30-plus starts for the second straight season. Wheeler was the 2021 NL Cy Young Award runner-up, the first of his two seasons (along with 2023) he reached 200 strikeouts.
“What a great contract,” Thomson said ahead of the game. “Really, what he’s given us, all the wins, all the innings he’s logged over that time, all the big games that he’s pitched, he’s been worth every penny.”
Wheeler allowed one run on a breezy, chilly night at Citizens Bank Park when the Phillies drew 34,046 fans to push their final home total to 3,052,605, easily their highest season total since they last drew 3 million fans in 2013.
The Phillies finished 49-32 at home and have at least two more in Philly next week. They won six straight playoff games at home last season until they lost Game 4 of the World Series. Thomson fondly recalls how an opposing coach told him playing a postseason game at CBP was “four hours of hell.”
“Three million people came through the gates this year and that tells you a lot about our fanbase,” Thomson said. "They are extremely passionate. They will be on fire Tuesday night. I'm expecting four hours of hell for the other team.
“Well, now it's probably going to be three to three-and-a-half with a pitch clock,” Thomson said.
Thomson also knows a good day at the ballpark means more than watching a Schwarbomb or Harper toss a helmet. It's about feeling like part of the Phillies community, one reason Thomson said thank you to team employees in the hours after the team clinched the wild card. It's why Thomson thanked gameday employees at a ballpark appreciation picnic earlier this month.
“I think it takes everybody in this building and everybody in (Florida) to do what we’re doing to reach the playoffs,” Thomson said. “Part of the deal with our fanbase is that not only do we have a good club, so it’s good to watch, but they have a good time in the ballpark. It's really due to their hospitality that these people come in here, they have a good time, they watch a good product and they cheer. It’s like a team within the team. I think it’s important to thank everybody.”
Jared Triolo had two RBIs and Jack Suwinski added a run-scoring single for the Pirates. Ortiz (5-5) struck out four in five innings.
David Bednar worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth for his 38th save in 41 chances.
Matt Strahm (9-5) took the loss and the Phillies snapped a seven-game losing streak.
NOW ANNOUNCING ...
Phillies public address announcer Dan Baker says he plans to return next year for his 52nd season with the team. Baker, who does not count the COVID-19 2020 season when a cancer battle forced him to step away, as part of his total, wants to set the record for most years as a PA announcer for one team. Baker is behind only the Chicago Cubs’ Pat Piper (1916-1974) and the New York Yankees’ Bob Sheppard (1951-2007).
The Pirates close the season with a three-game home series against the Marlins. Neither team has named a starter for any game.
The Phillies get in their final tune-up before the postseason when they head to New York for a three-game series. The Phillies send RHP Taijuan Walker (15-5, 4.35 ERA) to the mound. The Mets did not name a starter.
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