Marlins CEO Derek Jeter: We’re trying to build something that’s special
A Miami Marlins pitcher hits the Atlanta Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr with the first pitch in the bottom of the first inning at SunTrust Park. Sound familiar?
It happened again on Tuesday — one year and five days later — when Elieser Hernandez’s 87.2 mph fastball inside got away and hit Acuna in the lower back.
“I don’t have anything against him,” Hernandez said through an interpreter. “The ball got away. I was just trying to throw inside, and it got away.”
The benches didn’t clear this time, although Braves manager Brian Snitker was ejected and Acuna was visibly frustrated as he talked with umpires halfway down the first-base line as both teams were issued warnings.
Hernandez also wasn’t ejected, although he received more ire from Braves fans when he plunked Adeiny Hechavarria three innings later.
The Braves, however, got the last laugh, beating the Marlins 5-1 to begin the three-game series. Freddie Freeman drove in four runs for the Braves (75-52), hitting solo home runs in the fourth and fifth innings while adding a two-run single in the seventh.
The Marlins (45-79) have lost 10 consecutive road games, 14 of their last 17 and are 4-13 this year against the Braves.
Hernandez left following the fourth inning with a right middle finger blister and is day to day.
The 6-1, 209-pound righty held the Braves to one run — a Freeman solo home run in the fourth — while giving up three hits, two walks and the two hit-by-pitches. Hernandez struck out five and threw 68 pitches.
“I just try to give all I’ve got when I’m out there,” Hernandez said. “I work really hard. Sometimes you don’t have the tools, but you’ve got to give all you’ve got.”
He escaped a two-out, bases-loaded situation in the fourth — created by a Matt Joyce double, the Hechavarria hit-by-pitch and a Rafael Ortega walk — by striking out Dallas Keuchel.
“I thought he was pretty good, honestly,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “Got himself out of a couple jams.”
Hernandez gave up one earned run over 11 innings in three appearances (two starts) against the Braves this season, including six shutout innings in his other start against Atlanta on Aug. 8 at Marlins Park.
Jon Berti scored the Marlins’ lone run in the third with a solo homer to right-center field, his fourth of the year and second this road trip.
Rookie second baseman Isan Diaz committed two errors in the span of three plays in the seventh, giving him four over the past two games. Two unearned runs scored in that inning.
“You feel bad for him tonight on those, but we’ve got to get past that,” Mattingly said. “We’ve got to get to work and get better. Simple as that.”
Starting pitcher Pablo Lopez is slated to throw five innings and 85 pitches in a rehab start for the Triple A New Orleans Baby Cakes on Wednesday. If it goes well, he could return to the Marlins’ starting rotation as early as next week.
Lopez’s catcher for that rehab start? Chad Wallach, who has been on the injured list since May 24 with a concussion. He played three rehab games in July before having to be pulled back when symptoms re-emerged.
The streak continues
▪ Marlins pitchers have now given up home runs in 21 consecutive games, extending their franchise record streak. Miami has given up multiple home runs in 17 of those 21 games, including the last eight.
▪ The Marlins lost their MLB-leading 19th game when outhitting their opponent. The Marlins had eight hits on Tuesday. The Braves had seven.