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Gausman ejected for throwing behind Urena

Braves, Marlins had benches-clearing incident in 2018
@cdenicola13
May 3, 2019

MIAMI -- Nearly nine months have passed since Marlins right-hander Jose Urena hit Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. in the left elbow with a pitch. Facing Miami's starting pitcher for the first time since the benches-clearing incident, Braves right-hander Kevin Gausman was ejected by home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson for "intentionally

MIAMI -- Nearly nine months have passed since Marlins right-hander Jose Urena hit Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. in the left elbow with a pitch.

Facing Miami's starting pitcher for the first time since the benches-clearing incident, Braves right-hander Kevin Gausman was ejected by home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson for "intentionally throwing" at Urena in the second inning of Friday night's 7-2 win at Marlins Park.

"Obviously, the umpire thought that there was a reason behind it and decided to throw me out of the game," said Gausman, who threw just 28 pitches before being relieved by rookie Touki Toussaint. "Obviously, MLB's going to look at it, investigate it, so I'm not going to really comment anything further than that."

Last Aug. 15 at SunTrust Park, Urena hit Acuna with a first-pitch, 97.5 mph two-seam fastball to open the game. Acuna walked up the third-base line toward the Marlins' dugout before sitting on the ground in pain. When he got back up and headed toward first base, he tossed his shin guard at the mound.

Gausman, who was on the mound for the Braves in that game last August, had first base open with two outs and a run already in on Friday. With a pair of runners in scoring position, Gausman threw a 97.1 mph four-seam fastball behind Urena that he managed to dodge.

Nelson, who declined to answer when asked whether the previous benches-clearing incident affected his decision, immediately signaled ejection -- the second of Gausman’s career. Braves manager Brian Snitker came out to plead his case before being ejected.

No warnings had been issued prior to the game, but both teams were warned after the near-hit-by-pitch of Urena.

"We're trying to just get out of the inning," Snitker said. "It wasn't a situation where we're trying to extend the inning or whatever, bring Curtis Granderson up with the bases loaded. There were no warnings before the game. I guess they got to do what they got to do."

At the time of last August’s HBP, Acuna was vying to become the first Brave to homer in six consecutive contests. He also entered with eight homers in eight games, including a leadoff dinger in three straight. Urena, who has led the National League in HBPs the past two seasons, had gone 0-1 with an 11.25 ERA in three starts against the Braves in 2018.

The umpires didn't eject Urena until they conferred following the benches clearing a second time. Acuna remained in the game to run the bases, but he exited after experiencing discomfort in the second inning. Tests came back negative on Acuna's left elbow, and he returned to the lineup the following evening. Acuna would go on to be named the NL Rookie of the Year Award winner. Atlanta, en route to an NL East title, did not retaliate.

Urena wound up with a six-game suspension and Braves first-base coach Eric Young Sr. received a one-game suspension.

"For me, it was, just play the game, like normal," said Urena, who gave up five runs over six innings in Friday's loss. "If they want to do something, if they were ready to do that, good for them. I just tried to keep playing the game to cover for my team."

Following the game, both managers were asked whether the situation was over. Said Marlins skipper Don Mattingly: "It is what it is. No reason talking about that, really. I would assume."

"I don't know that we ever had that feeling, really," Snitker said, when asked whether guys could focus back on the game. "It's a division game. We want to try and win every game we play. I think our guys are good at putting things behind them. Things happen over the course of a game, but we just kind of refocus going back to work."

Christina De Nicola is a reporter and game producer for MLB.com based in Miami. Follow her on Twitter @CDeNicola13.