DENVER -- Mike Foltynewicz allowed his emotions to get the best of him during the decisive sixth inning and A.J. Pierzynski was ejected while Erick Aybar and manager Brian Snitker argued against an obstruction call levied against Aybar during Mauricio Cabrera's ugly eighth inning.
Needless to say, the Braves were not happy about how things unraveled as they opened a four-game set at Coors Field with Thursday night's 7-3 loss to the Rockies. Foltynewicz became visibly frustrated after surrendering Carlos González's mammoth three-run home run in the sixth inning and Pierzynski came unglued when he was ejected for what he claimed to be an innocent kick of a ball toward Colorado's dugout.
"I guess it was just the heat of the moment," Pierzynski said after the Braves lost for the fifth time in seven games since the All-Star break. "I don't know. I didn't even understand what had happened. We were trying to figure it out."
With the Braves trailing 4-1 in the eighth inning, Cabrera issued a walk and hit a batter before a sacrifice bunt put runners at second and third base for Nick Hundley, who singled through the infield's left side. Trevor Story scored uncontested and it appeared left fielder Jace Peterson's throw from left field denied Daniel Descalso's bid to score from second base. But after Pierzynski tagged Descalso, second-base umpire Mark Wegner called obstruction on shortstop Aybar, who did not make contact with Descalso, but stepped in front of him near third base.
As Snitker and Aybar argued the ruling near third base, Pierzynski walked toward the mound to talk to Cabrera. In the process, the 39-year-old catcher dropped a ball, which he then kicked toward the Rockies' dugout without any interaction with plate umpire Mike Winters, who issued the ejection.
"I kicked the ball to their dugout because we needed a new ball," Pierzynski said. "I've done that a hundred times over my career. I wasn't looking at [Winters]. I didn't say anything to him. I just dropped a ball when I was standing there talking to Cabrera and was just kicking it to get a new ball. I apologized. Maybe I should have bent over, picked it up and rolled it over."
As Pierzynski defiantly made his way toward the dugout, he was certainly much more animated than Foltynewicz had been while issuing a career-high five walks and allowing the Rockies three runs over 5 2/3 innings. But the young, talented pitcher, who is just 26 starts into his career, conceded he must harness his emotions on the mound better than he has in his past two outings.
Like during last weekend's start against the Rockies, Foltynewicz visibly objected to a few borderline pitches and he became more visibly upset after surrendering Gonzalez's home run in the sixth. Foltynewicz struck out the next batters he faced. But when his outing ended a few minutes later with Hundley recording a six-foot single, he stood on the mound with his hands on his hips until Snitker took the ball from him.
"It's something I'm definitely trying to control, but at the same time I'm a competitor and the first thing on my mind is trying to go out there and win for this team," Foltynewicz said. "That's what I try to do every time. It slips here and there, but I'm trying to get better."