Acuna homers, gets hit again, and Braves top Marlins 5-0
They couldn’t hit Sean Newcomb, again.
Acuna, the dazzling Atlanta rookie, connected on a 432-foot blast for his 21st home run and got hit by another Miami pitch, though tempers stayed in check this time and the Braves went on to beat the Marlins 5-0 on Thursday night.
It was the first meeting between the teams since the Aug. 15 game in which Miami starter Jose Urena earned a six-game suspension by plunking Acuna on his first and only pitch, sparking a melee where dugouts from both sides emptied onto the field twice.
This time, no hysterics broke out.
“In the moment I was a little upset just because obviously I’d been hit before in the previous series and then I got hit tonight,” Acuna said through a translator. “But, you know, those are things of the game.”
In the end, it was more of the same for Newcomb and the Braves when they face the Marlins. Newcomb (11-7) allowed two hits and struck out eight in six shutout innings, improving to 4-0 with a 0.75 ERA in four starts against Miami this season. Atlanta improved to 13-3 against the Marlins this year, now winning each of the teams’ last seven meetings.
“Just going with what’s working against them,” Newcomb said. “I’ve been staying aggressive and it’s been good. And it’s a divisional team, see them a good amount, so it’s one of those teams that you kind of step it up a little bit for.”
Charlie Culberson and Ender Inciarte also homered for Atlanta, which remained three games ahead of second-place Philadelphia in the NL East.
Marlins starter Elieser Hernandez (2-7) lasted three innings, giving up three hits — two of them homers — and three runs. He was relieved by Jarlin Garcia, who departed with one out in the fifth after Atlanta’s Nick Markakis lined a comebacker into his lower right leg and the ball ricocheted into foul ground on the third-base side.
“Jarlin got hit pretty good,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly, who indicated Garcia may miss some time. X-rays were negative.
Acuna got hit in the sixth, with the Braves already up 5-0. Javy Guerra was pitching for Miami, and the first seven pitches he threw were strikes.
The eighth wasn’t.
Guerra’s 94-mph fastball to Acuna was high and tight, and appeared to hit the Atlanta star around the left wrist. Acuna slammed his helmet to the ground and yelled, but eventually made his way to first without any bench-emptying reprise of what happened in Atlanta last week.
“I’d be angry too,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It hurts. But he did exactly what he should do, go to first.”
Guerra said he was merely trying to place a pitch, not hit Acuna.
“We move on,” Guerra said.
The Braves evened things up on the hit-batter front in the bottom of the sixth.
Miami’s Brian Anderson got hit by Newcomb with two out. Braves catcher Tyler Flowers set up way inside — his glove behind Anderson, who took the pitch off the left arm. Home plate umpire Chris Conroy warned Newcomb, then both dugouts, and Anderson went quietly to first.
Anderson got hit again in the eighth, this time with a 78-mph curveball from Jesse Biddle around the shin. Again, Anderson went to first without much in the way of extracurricular activity.
Mattingly said he doesn’t expect any carryover to the final three games of the series.
“It’s over,” Mattingly said.
Braves: C Kurt Suzuki (bruised left triceps) remained out of the lineup. Flowers started again, and played on three consecutive days for the first time since July 1-3.
Marlins: OF Lewis Brinson (right hip) and OF/1B Garrett Cooper (right wrist) are nearing returns from the disabled list, and the Marlins are planning to get them around 100 at-bats in the final month.
The Braves (72-55 this season, 72-90 in 2017) are the third MLB team to already match or exceed its win total from last year, joining Philadelphia and Oakland. San Francisco (63-66) is one win shy of matching its 2017 total and Boston (90-39) is three wins away from its mark of a year ago. Barring a massive collapse, this will be Atlanta’s first winning season in five years.
Marlins staff will discuss Friday who to call up when rosters expand in September — and they will be giving new faces some exploratory looks. “But you’re also playing teams in playoff hunts, and you’re kind of obligated to play your best team,” manager Don Mattingly said.
RHP Mike Foltynewicz (10-7, 2.72) goes for Atlanta on Friday night against Miami and RHP Dan Straily (4-6, 4.60). Foltynewicz is 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA against the Marlins this season and 5-1 in his career when facing the Marlins. Straily is 2-1 against the Braves in 2018.