Braves manager Brian Snitker was ejected from Tuesday night’s game in the bottom of the first inning after Ronald Acuna was hit by a pitch.
It was the second time in slightly more than a year that the Marlins’ first pitch of a game at SunTrust Park drilled Acuna.
On Aug. 15, 2018, Acuna was struck in the left elbow by a 97.5-mph fastball from Marlins starter Jose Urena, causing both benches to empty. On Tuesday, Marlins starter Elieser Hernandez’s 87-mph fastball struck Acuna in his left side, causing less furor.
Home-plate umpire Alan Porter issued warnings to both teams as Acuna made his displeasure with the hit-by-pitch clear, slowly and unhappily taking first base. Snitker objected to the warnings, leading to his ejection by umpire crew chief Mark Wegner.
"I kind of felt like if you needed to have a warning, then you should have thrown (Hernandez) out of the game," Snitker said after the Braves' 5-1 win. "That was kind of a hard one for me to understand, especially in light of past things."
Snitker seemed unsure what to make of the intent of the pitch.
“I don’t think that kid would want to hit him, honestly, but in light of what’s happened, then you better keep the ball away from that guy,” Snitker said. “And if you’re going to miss, miss the other way. Because when I watched it (on replay), I wasn’t so sure (about intent).”
For his part, Hernandez said through a translator after the game that he didn’t intend to hit Acuna.
“I don't have anything against him,” Hernandez said. “The pitch got away. I was going to throw inside, and it just got away.”
In the fourth inning, Hernandez hit another Braves batter with a pitch, Adeiny Hechavarria. Despite the earlier warnings against further incidents, the umpires took no action. The ejected Snitker saw the second hit-by-pitch on TV.
“I’m thinking, ‘You’re still pitching in with warnings. Then why did we just issue warnings?’” Snitker said. “... When you issue warnings, you better keep that ball out. That disrupts the whole game. That’s why I don’t like those things, especially in that situation.”
Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of the warnings: “They kind of forced those. If (Acuna) just goes to first, they can do whatever they want back, and then the warnings come.”
Before Tuesday night, Acuna had a batting average of .336 with 15 home runs, a 1.125 OPS and 33 RBIs in 34 career games against the Marlins, including eight home runs against them this season. Acuna was 1-for-4 Tuesday.
Credit: John Amis
Credit: John Amis