Braves' Brian Snitker says Ronald Acuna sore but X-rays clean, calls HBP 'a damn shame'

Atlanta Braves rookie Ronald Acuna Jr., who had homered in five straight games -- the last three against the Marlins -- was hit by the first pitch thrown by Miami starter Jose Urena on Wednesday night, leading to a benches-clearing scuffle.

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.

"I think it's pretty evident what I thought," Snitker said after the game, which the Braves won 5-2 to complete a four-game sweep. "That's a shame. The young man is just playing the game, doing what he loves to do. A damn shame."

The pitch that hit Acuna was clocked at 97.5 mph, the fastest pitch Urena has ever thrown to open a game, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"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."

Acuna was hit near his left elbow and remained on the ground for a few minutes as players from both sides shouted at one another, pushing and shoving. Acuna eventually was able to get up and walk down to first base to run the bases.

Order appeared to be restored until Acuna walked near the mound on his path to first base, took off a protective wrap and tossed it toward the mound. That led to players again spilling out of both dugouts and bullpens. No punches were thrown.

In the top of the second inning, Acuna, who had been flexing his left arm as he took his position in left field, signaled to the bench and came out of the game.

Snitker said Acuna was sore but that X-rays on the elbow were negative and results of further tests would be announced Thursday. Snitker said he did not think the ball hit Acuna directly on the elbow and that Acuna came out of the game more because he was cramping.

"What happens if it breaks his elbow and he's done for the year and with what we're trying to accomplish here?" Snitker asked. "There's a way to get the kid out; throw a breaking ball. You throw a fastball down the middle and he hits it out, what do you expect?"

Snitker, who seemed to be having trouble choosing his words, said, "I've had three hours to calm down, and all of a sudden I'm not real good right now. ... He's my kid; I'm gonna protect him."

"I'm not sure I've ever felt like that in a baseball game before. It's just my emotion," Snitker added. "That kid didn't deserve that. There's just no reason for a young man to be hit like that when all he's doing is playing the game."

Snitker was ejected by third-base umpire Paul Nauert, the crew chief. After everyone calmed down, the umpires huddled and then plate umpire Chad Fairchild ejected Urena and warned both benches. That led to a protest from Marlins manager Don Mattingly.

Elieser Hernandez replaced Urena.

Freeman denounced Urena's fastball after the game as "gutless."

"I know that wasn't the Marlins," Freeman said. "That was just Jose Urena. I don't understand it. Makes no sense. Just because a player is having fun playing the game, swinging the bat incredibly well obviously, that just makes no sense. That was incredibly classless on Jose Urena's part."

Freeman, Snitker and other Braves players believe Urena intended to hit Acuna. 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."

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.

He is the fourth starting pitcher in the live ball era to hit the only batter he faced in a game, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Bob Shaw in 1965, Scott Elarton in 2001 and John Lackey in 2009 were the first three. All four were ejected from the game.

The 20-year-old Acuna entered the game on a rare power streak.

Acuna 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. And he tied the Atlanta record of five straight games with a homer, set by Brian McCann in 2006.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, because of Rule 9.23, Acuna's streak of homering in five straight games remains intact because he was hit by the pitch in his only plate appearance.

Adam Duvall replaced Acuna in left field.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.