Less than 24 hours after the heated drama between Sandy Alcantara and Ronald Acuna Jr., the topic was still on the minds of the Marlins. Except they were frustrated with another incident from the game.
In the third inning of Atlanta’s 9-5 victory over Miami in Game 1, tempers flared after Alcantara plunked Acuna with a 98 mile per hour fastball in the back. Acuna, who opened the game with a lead-off homer against Alcantara, took a few steps toward the mound in clear frustration before being separated by the umpires and an assistant coach.
While the incident generated national headlines, Marlins manager Don Mattingly was frustrated by another play that didn’t garner as much attention. In the seventh inning of Tuesday’s contest, Acuna Jr. slid high into second base, hitting shortstop Miguel Rojas above his knee.
Asked about the slide on Wednesday, Mattingly didn’t mince words with his interpretation of the play.
“If you get spiked above the knee, I’d call it dirty,” Mattingly said. “Maybe 15 years ago, you blow that guy up and nobody says a word and everybody expects it, but in today’s game if you spike a guy above the knee, I think you call that dirty.
“He started sliding hard. I think everything is good with the slide until he throws a spike above the knee.”
Rojas responded to a picture of the slide, tweeting “Nobody talks about that who cares about a middle infielder getting spike on the knee.”
Emotions have run high between Acuna and the Marlins over the past three seasons, with the Braves outfielder being hit five times by Miami. The most notable instance came during his rookie season in 2018. After Acuna led off the previous three games with home runs, Marlins pitcher Jose Urena drilled the Braves outfielder with a 97 mile per hour fastball on the first pitch of the game. Benches cleared and Urena was later suspended six games as a result.
On Wednesday, Mattingly insisted there’s been no intent with any of the pitches thrown at Acuna.
“This guy is hard to get out,” Mattingly said. "And so you’ve got to use both sides of the plate. He hits a 96 mile per hour fastball on the outside corner out of the ballpark; hits it a ton. That shows you that you can’t just let him [hang] over the plate.
"We’re trying to get him out. We don’t want to put him on base. Their best hitter is coming up next in Freddie [Freeman] and [Marcell] Ozuna is having a tremendous year. We’re trying to get this guy out. That’s the reality of it.
“The other reality is in the time frame he’s been hit five time[s], Brian Anderson has been hit six [times]. He hasn’t said a word about it. He doesn’t make a big deal about it. [Miguel Rojas] has been hit five [times]. Just the reality, you’re trying to get people out. I don’t think the Braves are throwing at Andy, I think they’re trying to get him out."
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