By CHARLES ODUM, AP Sports Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Ronald Acuna’s opportunity to extend his three-game streak of leadoff homers was put on hold when the Marlins’ Jose Urena hit him with his first pitch on Wednesday night, triggering a melee that led to benches and bullpens for Atlanta and Miami emptying twice.
Urena and Braves manager Brian Snitker were ejected. Snitker had angry words for the pitcher as he led the first exodus from Atlanta’s dugout toward the mound.
Urena’s fastball hit Acuna’s left elbow, leaving Acuna in obvious pain. Trainer George Poulis hovered over Acuna, who sat on the ground near the batter’s box while players swarmed near the mound.
The Braves said X-rays on the elbow were negative and results of further tests would be announced on Thursday.
The Braves won the game 5-2 to complete a four-game sweep.
Snitker believed Urena intended to hit Acuna with the pitch.
“I’ll be honest with you. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt like that in a baseball uniform,” Snitker said. “That was just my emotion. That kid didn’t deserve that.”
Urena’s fastball was timed at 97 mph.
“Fastest pitch he’s thrown all year and it was clearly intentional and it wasn’t right,” Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “Hopefully some things are done about it.”
Order appeared to be restored until Acuna walked near the mound on his path to first base, took off a shin guard and tossed it to the edge of the mound. That led to players again spilling out of both dugouts and bullpens. No punches were thrown.
Snitker was ejected by third-base umpire Paul Nauert, the crew chief. After the melee calmed down, the umpires huddled and then home plate umpire Chad Fairchild ejected Urena and warned both benches. That led to a protest from Marlins manager Don Mattingly.
Following a long delay to allow right-hander Elieser Hernandez, who replaced Urena, to throw his warm-up pitches, Acuna remained in the game to run the bases.
But Acuna’s stay was short-lived. He left in the top of the second, walking off the field after taking his position in left field. Snitker said Acuna’s forearm was cramping when he left the game in the second inning.
Because he was forced from the game after being hit by the pitch in his only plate appearance, Acuna will be eligible to continue his streak of leadoff homers in his next game.
Urena has a history of control problems. Entering the game, he was tied for second in the National League with 10 hit batters. He tied for the major league lead with 14 hit batters in 2017.
The 20-year-old Acuna entered the game on a rare power streak. He hit two homers in Tuesday night’s 10-6 win over the Marlins. He became the first player to hit leadoff shots in three straight games since Baltimore’s Brady Anderson led off with homers in four straight games in 1996.
He tied the Atlanta record of five straight games with a homer, set by Brian McCann in 2006.
Adam Duvall replaced Acuna in left field.