Swanson fills void after Acuna’s exit as Braves top Marlins
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves and their manager had plenty of reasons to be unhappy even after completing their first four-game sweep of the Miami Marlins since 2006.
Seeing slugging rookie Ronald Acuna Jr., who had been on a home-run streak, hit by Jose Urena’s first pitch led to two melees on the field and more unrest in the clubhouse.
Dansby Swanson filled the power void left by Acuna’s exit, hitting a two-run homer that led the Braves to a 5-2 win over Miami on Wednesday night.
Acuna, who had hit leadoff homers in the last three games and homered in five straight games overall, didn’t get a chance to extend the streak. Urena plunked him on the left elbow with a fastball.
The Braves said X-rays on the elbow were negative and results of further tests would be announced on Thursday.
Benches and bullpens for both teams emptied onto the field twice after the pitch. No punches were thrown. Urena and Braves manager Brian Snitker were ejected.
“He’s been swinging the ball incredibly well, obviously,” Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman said of Acuna. “It just makes no sense. It was just completely classless on Jose Urena’s part.”
Snitker, Freeman and other Braves players believe Urena intended to hit Acuna. Marlins manager Don Mattingly said the umpires also believed Urena tried to hit the Braves rookie, but Mattingly was upset his pitcher was not ejected until Snitker came on the field for the second time.
“If you think he’s done it on purpose, then throw him out right away,” Mattingly said.
Urena said he was only trying to throw the pitch inside.
“I made the bad pitch,” Urena said. “I missed my spot inside on the corner the way I wanted to start with him. I tried to get inside to move him.”
Paul Nauert, the third-base umpire and crew chief, said the decision to eject Urena was delayed because “we wanted to make sure as a crew we were all on the same page. ... When we got together as a crew, it was decided by the crew that yes, he should have been ejected. So that’s what we did.”
An angry Snitker was near the front of the line of Braves players charging out of the dugout toward the mound. His emotions started to rise again following the game.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever felt like that in a baseball uniform,” Snitker said, adding Acuna “didn’t deserve that. ... I’ve had three hours to calm down and all of a sudden I’m not real good right now.”
Acuna became the 11th batter to be hit by a pitch from Urena this season, tied for the most in the National League.
Acuna left the game in the second inning. He took his position in left field and then walked off the field. Snitker said Acuna had cramping in his forearm when he left the game.
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 three-game streak of leadoff homers in his next game.
Kevin Gausman (7-9) allowed two runs in six innings. A.J. Minter pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save in 12 opportunities.
Elieser Hernandez, who replaced Urena, allowed two hits in three scoreless innings.
The Braves trailed 2-0 before scoring three runs off left-hander Jarlin Garcia (1-2) in the fourth. Charlie Culberson, who doubled, scored from third on Ender Inciarte’s grounder to first base. After Tyler Flowers walked, Swanson cleared the center field wall with his 10th homer.
Culberson had three hits, including two doubles. Inciarte, who had a run-scoring single in the sixth, drove in two runs.
Starlin Castro led off Miami’s fourth with his 10th homer into the seats in right field.
Braves LHP Max Fried, on the 10-day disabled list with a left groin strain, will make a rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday — “quicker than we originally thought,” Snitker said. ... LHP Sam Freeman (left shoulder inflammation) threw a scoreless inning for Gwinnett on Tuesday and is scheduled to throw again on Thursday.
The NL East-leading Braves remained two games ahead of Philadelphia. They have won five straight after completing their first four-game sweep of the Marlins since May 15-18, 2006 at Turner Field.
The last-place Marlins have lost five straight and eight of nine.
BIG LEAGUE DEBUT
Miami left fielder Austin Dean, a 2012 fourth-round draft pick called up from Triple-A New Orleans before the game, was held without a hit in his major league debut.
Marlins: Miami, off Thursday, opens a weekend series at slumping Washington on Friday night. RHP Dan Straily (4-5. 4.42) has a 3.86 ERA in two starts against the Nationals this season.
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran (8-7, 4.33) will look to continue his success against the Rockies in Thursday night’s opener of a four-game series. Teheran is 5-1 with a 2.21 ERA in nine career starts against Colorado.