Matt Williams on Bryce Harper’s ejection: “He needs to stay in the baseball game”

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Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was ejected from Friday’s game against the Mets in the top of the 11th inning after arguing balls and strikes with home plate umpire Jerry Meals. You can watch here to see how events unfolded.

Harper was angry about the strike zone all night and had a legitimate gripe in this case, as the called third strike was outside (hat-tip Mark Zuckerman of CSNMA.com). However, he let his frustration get the best of him in the situation and got right in Meals’ face. Meals gave him the opportunity to walk away, but he eventually had no choice but to eject him from the ballgame.

Harper’s ejection put the Nationals in a bit of a bind, as they ended up having to use Dan Uggla at first base for the first time in his career and Ryan Zimmerman in left field. It didn’t have an impact on the finish, as the Mets won 2-1 in the bottom of the 12th on a walk-off homer from Wilmer Flores, but Nationals manager Matt Williams told James Wagner of the Washington Post that Harper’s actions were unacceptable given the circumstances.

“He needs to stay in the baseball game,” said Williams after the game, visibly frustrated, perhaps by the 2-1 walk-off loss, Harper’s ejection or that two relievers were unavailable. “He needs to stay in the baseball game.”

Harper said after the game that he was ” sticking up for my team and myself,” but he does a lot more good for his team when he’s on the field as opposed to sitting in the clubhouse. Williams said he plans to remind him to keep his cool, which is important with the Nationals playing some crucial games down the stretch.

Max Scherzer, with broken nose, strikes out 10 Phillies over seven shutout innings

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Nationals starter Max Scherzer bunted a ball into his face during batting practice on Tuesday, breaking his nose in the process. He ended up with a gnarly looking shiner around his right eye, making him appear a bit like Terminator. Scherzer still took the ball to start the second game of Wednesday night’s doubleheader against the Phillies.

Despite the injury, Scherzer was incredibly effective, limiting the Phillies to four hits and two walks across seven shutout innings, striking out 10 batters in the process. He might even have had some extra adrenaline going, as he averaged 96.2 MPH on his fastball, his highest average fastball velocity in a game since September 2012, per MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. The Nationals provided Scherzer with just one run of support, coming on a Brian Dozier solo home run off of Jake Arrieta in the second inning, but it was enough.

Wander Suero worked a scoreless top of the eighth with a pair of strikeouts. Victor Robles added a solo homer off of Pat Neshek in the bottom half. Closer Sean Doolittle took over in the ninth, working a 1-2-3 frame to give the Nats their 2-0 victory.

Over his last six starts, Scherzer now has a 0.88 ERA with a 59/8 K/BB ratio across 41 innings. He has gone six innings, struck out at least nine batters, and held the opposition to two or fewer runs in each of those six starts.