Things appeared to be calm between the Marlins and Braves for a little more than five innings Thursday night.
Then a fastball from Miami reliever Javy Guerra drifted high and inside and hit Ronald Acuna, Jr. on the inside part of his right wrist.
But just eight days after currently-suspended Marlins’ pitcher Jose Urena hit Acuna, Jr. with a 97-mph fastball leading to a bench-clearing confrontation between both teams, no such incident occurred on Thursday night during Atlanta’s 5-0 win over Miami.
Urena took batting practice before the game as he served the third game of a six-game suspension that followed the incident on Aug. 15 in Atlanta.
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Acuna, Jr. let go of his bat and slammed his helmet to the ground right after Guerra’s 93.9-mph fastball, which came on a 0-2 count, made contact. After a brief look from the Braves’ team trainer and Atlanta manager Brian Snitker with the umpires standing around him, Acuna took his base.
“At the moment, I was just a little upset because obviously I’d been hit before in the previous [Marlins] series and I got hit again tonight,” Acuna, Jr. said. “But you know what, those are just parts of the game and those things stay on the field.”
In the bottom half of the inning, the Braves hit a Marlins’ batter when starter Sean Newcomb hit Brian Anderson with a 93.8 mph fastball on the left arm with two outs and a runner on base. Anderson routinely took off his shin guard and gloves and trotted up the first base line.
As he did, home plate umpire Chris Conroy issued a warning to both dugouts.
Anderson was hit again on his foot by a curveball from Jesse Biddle in the ninth inning. Anderson again took his base although was seen talking to catcher Tyler Flowers before he ran up the line.
“It’s part of the game,” Miguel Rojas said. “I don’t think there was any intent today. We’re trying to get Acuna out and it’s unfortunate he’s getting hit by pitches in dangerous zones, close to the hands, that’s never a good place to get hit by a pitch. We’re not trying to hit the kid. We’re not trying to get anybody hurt and I guess they don’t want us to get hurt either. That’s not good for the game and that’s not good for us as an organization.”
Anderson did not speak to the media after the game, but Marlins manager Don Mattingly said the matter was over as far as he and the club was concerned.
“There’s no doubt Javy is just trying to get a ball in there and trying to get him out,” Mattingly said. “It is what it is. There’s nothing intentional there. It’s over.”
Guerra echoed his manager’s statement.
“It’s going to get a lot of attention and I’m aware, but anybody knows at 0-2 it’s not trying to hurt the kid,” Guerra said. “The ball slipped. I was trying to go up. The ball went in there and sometimes it happens. It’s part of it I guess, you know.
“It’s old school. The game will police itself. I think it’s over. We squashed it. We move on. Both teams we just keep going.”
Snitker saw it the same way, and understood Acuna’s reaction.
“Oh yeah, I’m sure it did,” Snitker said. “I’d be angry too. It hurts. He did exactly what he should do - go to first.”
With tensions continuing to linger, the Braves continued to dominate the 2018 series with the Marlins.
The Braves continued to smash his fellow Marlins’ pitchers as they have all season hitting three home runs, one of which came off the bat of Acuna, Jr. when he dented the wall behind the stands in left field after blasting a 432-foot solo homer in the third inning off starter Elieser Hernandez.
Charlie Culberson belted a two-run homer off Hernandez in the second inning, and Ender Inciarte’s solo shot in the fifth off Jarlin Garcia gave the Braves 29 home runs this season against the Marlins – their most against any opponent.
“That’s what is bothering me right now, not the hit by pitches, but the matter that we’re not playing good against this team,” Rojas said. “They’re in the top of the division and we’re trying to make strides to one day be on the top of the division and we have to be able to beat these guys. They’re young and they’re going to have this team for a long time so we have to find a way to start beating them and play better baseball against them.”
Garcia was hit on his lower right leg by a liner back up the middle by Nick Markakis later that inning. Garcia underwent X-rays that came back negative, but Mattingly said after the game he could be “out for a little bit.”
“I’m in pain, but I’m just grateful the x-rays showed there was nothing broken,” Garcia said.
Acuna, Jr. continued to terrorize Marlins’ pitching.
His seven home runs this year against the Marlins is four more than he has hit against any other opponent. His 18 RBI are 14 more runs driven in than he has against any other opponent.
Hernandez made a spot start for the Marlins (51-78), who lost to the Braves (72-55) for the seventh consecutive time and fell to 3-12 this season against Atlanta.
After the game, Hernandez said he was bothered by a blister during his outing, which he said he has continuously dealt with from time.
“I’ve kind of grown accustomed to dealing with it,” Hernandez said through his interpreter.
Hernandez, who was on a pitch count with Mattingly saying pregame that he’d likely only throw in the neighborhood of 60 pitches.
Hernandez threw 64, lasting three innings during which he gave up three runs on three hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
Newcomb carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning before surrendering a double to Austin Dean, and then loaded the bases on a walk to Starlin Castro. Dean grounded out to end the threat.
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