"It was a 2-2 count and I check swung," Harper said, explaining his reaction in what was a 5-5 game at the time. "I really think [Drake] needs to check that, especially in that situation where it was so quick. I really think a lot of guys in this league are thinking the same thing. The pitch was off the plate. To me, that was a check swing, and that's what he called it."
Harper, the team's hottest hitter and last week's National League Player of the Week, immediately came up barking on the pitch in question from reliever Oliver Perez. Harper said he asked Drake to check with third-base umpire Gabe Morales, but to no avail.
"I said, 'You're going to have to check it,'" Harper said. "He said, 'You're really going to act like that?' I didn't like that comment from him. It just accelerated from there. I don't like being talked down to. I respect the umpires as much as I can, but if he's going to tell me I'm going to act like that, I'm going to give him a piece of my mind.
"It's a 2-2 count, that's another pitch I can see. If the guy at third base bangs me, I'm going to walk back to the dugout and whatever. So he tossed me. But I really believe he needs to check that."
It was only the fourth time Harper has been ejected in his big league career, which is now in its fourth season, and the first time since July 13, 2013, at Miami. Harper had a double to lead off the second inning, but was stranded at third. He has 12 homers and 31 RBIs and is batting .308.
Williams, in his second season as Nationals manager, came out to argue with Drake after Harper was banished. He was ejected for the third time in his first tour as a big league manager. The last time was Oct. 4, 2014, in Game 2 of their NL Division Series against the Giants in Washington. Williams was run in the 10th inning of a game the Giants won, 2-1, in 18 innings.
Williams said he had to defend Harper.
"The argument was after the fact, and I'm just going out there to protect Bryce," Williams said. "If he gets kicked out of the game, he gets kicked out, but nothing further than that. He's passionate, but he's been real good all season about that. He's a valuable part of our team. I think he'll learn from that."