After the Braves scored got a four runs in the second inning against Marlins ace Jose Fernandez, and after Julio Teheran blew a 4-1 lead by giving up four runs in the sixth, there were fireworks of a different kind on the field Wednesday night at Turner Field. The testosterone-fueled confrontational kind.
Benches and bullpens cleared and both faced off near home plate and did plenty of jawing, but no punching, after Braves reliever Jose Ramirez threw a 94-mph fastball near Fernandez’s head in the seventh inning of a 7-5 Marlins win that clinched the series for the team that’s still has wild-card hopes, however faint.
Fernandez wasn’t hit, but was furious. He stepped toward the mound before he was held back by catcher Tyler Flowers, and within seconds both teams converged around home plate, barking at each other as Fernandez shouted and gestured.
“I find that a little over the line when you’re throwing at somebody’s head,” he said. “That’s not how we play the game but it’s not my call. Everybody does what they like when they’ve got the ball.”
Braves manager Brian Snitker said, “It just, I guess, got away from him.”
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Ramirez was ejected from the game, though there had not been a warning issued by the home-plate umpire after Teheran hit Martin Prado with a pitch in the sixth inning and Fernandez hit Nick Markakis — who homered in the second inning and nearly homered in the third — with what appeared to be a retaliatory pitch with two out and none on in the sixth.
Ramirez and Markakis had already left the clubhouse before reporters were let in for interviews following the game.
Snitker was asked if he thought the incidents were a carry-over from a four-game July series between the teams when Flowers was hit by pitches three times, one on the left hand that was diagnosed as fractured a week later. The Marlins’ A.J. Ramos was also hit in the hand by a pitch in the second game of that series.
“I don’t know,” said Snitker, who seemed to dismiss the suggestion. “To me, Nick hits a ball out, almost another one, and gets squared up (by a Fernandez pitch). I don’t think that was an accident.”
Flowers said, “Hey, part of the game. It is what it is. I think (Fernandez) will realize it more after the game, as he cools down. But I understand the reaction. Can’t say I would react any differently.”
Flowers had a conversation with Fernandez near the plate as Brandon Cunniff warmed up to finish pitching to Fernandez after Ramirez was ejected. “He was just worried that he thought the pitch was a little high,” Flowers said. “Again, I understand, I would have the same reaction. It’s baseball.”
Markakis also had a brief conversation with Fernandez while both teams were gathered near home plate, the right fielder circling the group and making his way to Fernandez.
“You know, I play with a lot of emotions and I play with a lot of energy,” Fernandez said. “That’s the way that I am. I told him, I throw you one of the best breaking balls that I have and you hit it ouit. I throw another one and you hit the crap out of it.”
After play resumed, Cunniff finished off the strikeout of Fernandez, to the delight of a small but vocal crowd of 21,498.
Markakis’ two-run homer in the second inning — his 12th, making it nine of 11 seasons that he’s hit at least a dozen homer — drove in the Braves’ first two runs and they batted around that inning against Fernandez, who gave up a career-high nine runs the last time he pitched at Turner Field.
Teheran allowed a run in the first inning on two singles and two Dee Gordon stolen bases, then recorded 14 outs in a span of 15 batters through the fifth inning. He was cruising. Then he was not.
Gordon led off the sixth inning with a triple, Derek Dietrich singled him in, and Teheran hit his friend and former teammate Prado with a pitch. One out later, Marcell Ozuna crushed a three-run homer for a 5-4 lead, giving him a .417 average and three homers in 36 career at-bats against Teheran, who struck him out in two previous at-bats Wednesday.
“I made one mistake that inning with two men on base and they got the lead right there,” Teheran said. “I think that’s when we lost the game, in that situation when I couldn’t make my pitch. I left it over the middle of the plate.”
That was all for Teheran (5-10), who gave up six hits and five runs in 5 1/3 innings and fell to 0-3 with a 5.79 ERA in his past four starts against the Marlins, after going 5-1 with a 2.69 ERA in 11 previous starts against them.
Freddie Freeman’s third-inning single extended his hitting streak to 20 games, matching the career best from his 2011 rookie season, and pushed his career-best on-base streak to 36 games. He left the game after the seventh inning and rushed to the hospital after his wife went into labor; Freeman had been ready all week to leave on a moment’s notice.
The Braves, after knocking Fernandez around for eight hits and nine runs (six earned) in 5 2/3 innings on July 2, this time had five hits and three runs before he recorded a fourth out in the game.
The last of those second-inning hits was a bunt by Teheran, a sacrifice attempt that became a single when nobody covered first base. Fernandez fielded it and turned to throw to first, then had to hold the ball with nobody covering. At that point, the Braves had 13 hits and 12 runs (nine earned) in a span of 6 2/3 innings vs. Fernandez over two starts.
Ender Inciarte followed Teheran’s bunt by grounding into a bases-loaded double play, a run scoring to make the lead 4-1. After Teheran’s bunt single, the Braves got just one more hit against Fernandez (15-8), who lasted seven innings and gave up six hits, four runs and two walks with three strikeouts.