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October 12, 2023

Phillies-Braves: Orlando Arcia mocked Bryce Harper, Atlanta found out

Bryce Harper tagged Atlanta for two home runs and stared down Orlando Arcia while running the bases with each one as the Phillies pummeled the Braves in Game 3 of the NLDS.

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Bryce-Harper-Home-Run-Staredown-NLDS-Game-3-2023.jpg Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Bryce Harper made sure Atlanta shortstop Orlando Arcia knew who hit those two home runs during the Phillies' 10-2 rout of the Braves in Game 3 of the NLDS.

The ball had sailed way out into the second deck in right field, Citizens Bank Park had grown completely deafening, and as Bryce Harper made his way around the bases, he stared dead at Orlando Arcia as he crossed second.

They both knew what it was about. All 45,000-plus in the stadium did.

Then Harper went and crushed another pitch, this time into the centerfield ivy, but still sure to give Arcia another staredown as he tagged all the bags again.

They both knew what it was about. All 45,000-plus in the stadium did.

The Phillies lost Game 2 of the NLDS Monday down in Atlanta via a total gut punch that ended on a Harper base-running blunder, and in the Braves' clubhouse after, Arcia was heard shouting "Ha-ha, atta-boy, Harper!" repeatedly while reporters were in the room.

It got picked up and circulated fast, inevitably making its way to the Phillies superstar as there was no way it wouldn't have – he's openly admitted to listening to WIP on the drive over to the ballpark, after all.

So he knew what was said, his teammates did too, just about everyone in Philadelphia did.

And the Braves went on to pay dearly for it.

The Phillies absolutely rocked Atlanta 10-2 in Game 3 of the NLDS back at the Bank on Wednesday, led by the two homers Harper launched – a three-run shot in the third and a solo one in the fifth – on the way to a postseason franchise record of six total home runs in a single game and the brink of a second consecutive trip to the NLCS.

It was a big-time performance from the Phillies' $330 million man, and Harper made sure that Arcia was painfully aware with each jog around the bases, but never with a word spoken, only a cold stare.

"I stared right at him," Harper said postgame.

"I mean, any time anybody says something, right? That's what it's all about."

"Well..." manager Rob Thomson quipped with a sly smile and a subtle shrug when told of Harper and Arcia's interactions during his press conference. "I don't know what to say about that."

But there is a motto around here that's pretty applicable to the Braves and their starting shortstop after Wednesday night, though the first part of it can't be published in print.

The latter can, however: They found out.

Granted, given that Harper and Nick Castellanos both arrived to the ballpark wearing Colorado Football gear, with both saying postgame that they're fans of what Deion Sanders is building with the program, maybe it was more Coach Prime's M.O. that the Phillies were adhering to (even if Harper and Castellanos both said that there wasn't an intentional link): It's personal.

Because for anyone that watched, man, did Wednesday's blowout sure feel that way.

"I think that the way the game ended in Atlanta was perfect because I think that that jolt of emotion and seeing them really celebrate kind of set the tone for this game rather than if Bryce got back and we would've worked it," explained Castellanos, who also said following that Game 2 loss that the Phils thrive after getting 'punched in the face.' "We would've just lost it – I don't wanna say it a normal way, because there's never a normal way to lose a game – but having that exclamation point on the loss I think was perfect for our group of guys."

And now potentially disastrous for a 104-win Braves club that has its season on the line after a brutal reintroduction to the "so-called hostile environment" that is the Philly home-field advantage, and for their shortstop, who more than likely realized Wednesday that by mocking Harper, he may have opened Pandora's box.

"He wasn't supposed to hear," Arcia, who is 2-for-11 this series, said of his taunt through a translator after Atlanta's Game 3 pummeling. "We were talking in the clubhouse."

But he did, all of Philadelphia did, and in the words of Coach Prime, it got personal.

Harper tagged Atlanta's pitching twice in the type of showing that goes on to become October legend, and with each trot around the bases came a cold stare Arcia's way as Harper crossed over second.

They both knew what it was about. All 45,000-plus in the stadium did. And it isn't about to die down with Game 4 back at the Bank on Thursday.

"He's a big game player, he really is," Thomson said of Harper. "These moments, he steps up and I think that he wanted to correct himself of the baseruning error, so that gets him going a little bit.

"But he wants to win and he comes to play every day, and when the lights are the brightest, he shows up."

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