So what happened in the sixth inning last night, with Bryce Harper at the plate with the bases loaded, two outs, and a 3-0 count? Just umpire Angel Hernandez being Angel Hernandez, inserting himself into the game yet again by calling three straight balls, strikes, against Harper. Angel's strike zone was all over the place all night long (at one point it was even spotted getting food at Chew Chew Express in Section 416 at Minute Maid Park); but during Harper's sixth inning AB it was particularly bad. Here's Adam LaRoche, via Washington Times, who asked if there was something going on, maybe initiation?
"I talked to Angel about it right after that at-bat. I said 'What's going on? From where I'm at those balls are down.' He assured me that they were good pitches. Said he would never do that to Bryce. He loves him. He loves the way he plays and that there's no kind of initiation there. He called it the way he would call it to anybody." (Adam LaRoche, via Washington Times, 8/9/2012)
Call it the way he would call it to anybody: poorly. Anyway, here are the three balls in question. At least the first one was close:
Here's ball 2, where Harper starts jogging to first base:
And here's ball 3. Ring him up, Angel!
If ever there was a time for Bryce Harper to smash his bat on home plate, that was it. The kid kept it together though. He even walked on four pitches later in the game.
(Screen caps via MASN/MLB.com)