Ronald Acuna Jr. almost reached his Don Mattingly-level boiling point with the Marlins.
Acuna, the Braves’ slugging superstar, was hit by a pitch against the Marlins for the second straight game Friday night. On July 2, Acuna was drilled on the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning and the umpires ejected pitcher Pablo Lopez, causing Mattingly, the Marlins manager, to blow his top and get ejected.
Fast forward to Friday night and Acuna was hit again in another series opener – this time with a slider from Anthony Bender in the seventh inning. Marlins pitchers have hit Acuna seven times since his rookie season of 2018, according to ESPN.
After keeping his cool one week ago, an irate Acuna began to walk toward the pitcher’s mound before he was cut off by Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro and home plate umpire Jordan Baker. Acuna was animated as he gestured and barked his case to Baker while escorted down the first-base line.
Braves coaches also moved toward the action to de-escalate tensions. Players from both benches stood on the top step with emotions running high.
Braves manager Brian Snitker set in motion the complaint that led to Lopez’s delayed ejection last week. But he took no issue with the latest hit by pitch, especially considering it came late in a game the Braves led 1-0.
“Not a big deal,” Snitker told reporters after the game. “He hit him with a breaking ball. Everybody handled themselves fine.”
Pitchers trying to send a message typically throw a fastball to the ribs.
“I’ve really grown tired of the drama, honestly,” Mattingly said. “I’m sure anybody that’s ever played the game, talked about it, saw that wasn’t intentional. I’m tired of talking about it.”
Until next time. Especially if a brawl breaks out.