By Sam Bush
Seth Lugo earned the first win by a Mets starter in more than three weeks.
But the real story in last night’s 5-1 Mets win was Phillies star Bryce Harper screaming in an umpire’s face after being ejected for arguing over a foul ball.
Andres Gimenez had two RBI in his bid to steal the starting shortstop job from Amed Rosario. Jeff McNeil hit two doubles, and Michael Conforto added two hits and an RBI as New York snapped a six-game skid against Philadelphia.
Rhys Hoskins homered in the first inning, but the Phillies’ five-game winning streak ended as they lost for only the second time in 12 games. Rookie right-hander Spencer Howard (1-2) allowed three runs in four innings, and reliever Ranger Suarez permitted another two runs.
Harper was tossed in the fifth by first base umpire Roberto Ortiz. The left-handed hitter ripped a first-pitch curveball from Lugo down the first base line, and Ortiz ruled the ball was foul. Harper put his hands on his head as he glared down the line before resuming the at-bat.
After grounding to third for the final out of the inning, Harper began arguing with Ortiz. Phillies second baseman Neil Walker tried to restrain Harper, and Ortiz warned the slugger multiple times to stop before signaling his ejection.
Harper then got in Ortiz’s face and began yelling at the 35-year-old umpire — an apparent violation of Major League Baseball’s safety protocols during this pandemic-shortened season.
Harper said he asked Ortiz for clarification on the call as he passed by heading toward right field and that Ortiz quickly became confrontational.
“I don’t understand why it turned or what I did where he was very upset with me,” Harper said. “Neil Walker was standing right there with me the whole time. I said, `I’m not even mad, I just want to know why he’s so upset and why he’s getting mad and talking to me like I’m a 5-year-old.’
“I said, ‘All I wanted to know was what you saw, and that’s it.’ And then I said, `Just be professional, please,’ and then that’s when he banged me.”
The blowup came an inning after Harper’s defensive miscue allowed Mets veteran Todd Frazier to score from third on Gimenez’s popup to shallow right field.
The strong-armed Harper looked on as Walker caught the ball on his heels and delivered an off-balance, wild throw home that let Frazier score easily. Walker shook his head at Harper after the play and appeared to explain to teammates in the dugout during the next inning that he was waiting for Harper to call him off the ball.
Harper was ejected for the 14th time in his career. The 27-year-old slugger is batting .149 (7 for 47) in his past 15 games following a scorching start.
Jeurys Familia, Justin Wilson, Miguel Castro and Edwin Diaz pitched a scoreless inning each to close up shop for New York. Diaz struck out three and worked around two walks in a non-save situation.