Bryce Harper was unwilling to allow Orlando Arcia to forget his prior remarks. Following Arcia’s taunting of Harper during the NLDS, Harper delivered two powerful home runs in a resounding 10-2 victory in Game 3, punctuating each with an unrelenting gaze in Arcia’s direction.
The spectacle unfolded as a direct response to the conclusion of Game 2 in Atlanta, which concluded in dramatic fashion with a double play that went against Harper in the ninth inning. Atlanta’s center fielder, Michael Harris II, made a remarkable leaping catch at the wall to deprive the Phillies’ Nicholas Castellanos of an extra-base hit, and Harper, stationed at first base, overran the bases, resulting in a double play that ended the game.
After the Braves secured the win, Arcia was overheard in the clubhouse, quipping, “Ha-ha, atta-boy, Harper,” as reported by Fox Sports. With the series leveled at 1-1 and moving to Philadelphia for Game 3, Harper appeared to elevate his performance and made sure to communicate this to Arcia.
“My teammates looked to me,” Harper recounted after the game, “and they inquired, ‘What’s your response?’… Indeed, I directed my gaze squarely at him.”
Though the Phillies initially fell behind, they managed to level the score in the fourth inning. When the opportunity arose to take the lead, Harper seized it with a towering three-run homer that soared an impressive 408 feet into the second tier of right field at Citizens Bank Park. As he rounded the bases, the two-time National League MVP maintained an unwavering stare in Arcia’s direction.
Two innings later, Harper launched a 414-foot solo home run to dead center field, once again offering Arcia a formidable glare as he rounded second base.
Arcia, through an interpreter, responded, “He can cast his gaze wherever he pleases. When we were conversing in the clubhouse, I believed that it was a private exchange. He wasn’t meant to overhear.”
Bryce Harper clarified his intentions, remarking, “I was merely endeavoring to establish the ambiance here at home. There’s no parallel to playing before this fervent fan base. The opposing team, under Elder’s leadership, had an exceptional year. We sought to apply pressure from the outset. [Phillies starter Aaron] Nola executed his duties admirably. It was a truly commendable victory.”
Phillies manager Rob Thomson expressed gratitude for the additional motivation, even though Harper’s intrinsic motivation was already formidable. “Certainly, he requires no additional incentive,” Thomson emphasized ahead of Game 3. “Nonetheless, if this augments his motivation, we are appreciative.”
Braves manager Brian Snitker, recognizing Harper’s prowess, stated, “He’s a luminary on the cusp of Hall of Fame induction. He’s one of those athletes who thrives on the grand stage. He possesses extraordinary abilities. Place him under the spotlight, and he will inevitably radiate.”
For the second consecutive season, the Braves, despite being the clear favorites as NL East champions. Encountered challenges in the NLDS against the Phillies. In the previous season, Philadelphia secured the series in four games. And they now aspire to replicate that feat, advancing to their second consecutive NLCS.