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Urena keeps cool after intense start vs. Braves

@JoeFrisaro
May 4, 2019

MIAMI -- In the heat of the moment, Jose Urena kept his cool. Bracing for the possibility of being thrown at, the 27-year-old held his ground in the batter’s box in the second inning, leaning forward just enough to allow Kevin Gausman’s upper-90s-mph fastball to whistle behind him. Feeling the

MIAMI -- In the heat of the moment, Jose Urena kept his cool. Bracing for the possibility of being thrown at, the 27-year-old held his ground in the batter’s box in the second inning, leaning forward just enough to allow Kevin Gausman’s upper-90s-mph fastball to whistle behind him.

Feeling the pitch was on purpose, home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson ejected Gausman, and Urena ended up drawing a four-pitch walk. At the plate, Urena was unrattled, but on the mound, the right-hander was tagged for five runs in six innings in the Marlins’ 7-2 loss to the Braves on Friday night in the series opener at Marlins Park.

Box score

Urena kept his poise on a night Gausman, Braves manager Brian Snitker and Miami manager Don Mattingly were ejected.

“I just go out there, be ready and be prepared,” Urena said. “We're professional. You try to play the game. That's what I try to show for the little kids out there. But sometimes other people try to do something different, but you've got to get out there and compete.”

In the sixth inning, Mattingly was tossed by Nelson for disputing a low strike call on Jorge Alfaro, on a pitch that would have been ball four.

Mattingly said he was more frustrated by what the Marlins felt was a missed strike call in the top of the sixth inning on a 1-2 fastball to Brian McCann, who ended up belting a two-run homer in the at-bat. If the call had gone Miami’s way, the inning would have been over and the score would have remained 3-1 in Atlanta’s favor.

“You feel it cost you two runs there, and then you feel like you get a ball four,” Mattingly said. “You feel like it's really down.”

But some mistakes on the mound, on two-strike pitches, proved costly.

Freddie Freeman, on a 1-2 pitch in the first inning, homered to right, and in the sixth inning, McCann’s two-run, two-out home run on a 2-2 hanging curveball broke the game open.

“That was a little bit frustrating,” Urena said. “You are thinking 100 percent that you got that call [on McCann], and they don't give you the call. You try to make a good pitch. I paid. You've got to get ready and compete.”

Urena faced the Braves for the first time since being ejected last Aug. 15 for hitting Ronald Acuna Jr. with a pitch.

For the incident, MLB slapped Urena with a six-game suspension for “intentionally throwing” at the then-Braves rookie, who went on to be named the National League Rookie of the Year Award winner.

On that night at SunTrust Park, Urena plunked Acuna with his first pitch of the game, which led to both benches clearing. Urena was ejected.

In the second inning on Friday, Urena stepped to the plate for the first time with runners on second and third and two outs. McCann set up inside, and Gausman’s first pitch a 97.1 mph four-seam fastball, whistled behind Urena. Nelson immediately ejected Gausman, although the Braves tried to make their case about the intent of the pitch.

“He was ejected for intentionally throwing at the batter,” Nelson said. “That’s where I’m going to leave that.”

Urena didn’t make an issue of the fastball that was way off the mark.

“For me, it was, just play the game, like normal,” Urena said. “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.”

Touki Toussaint, called up from Triple-A on Friday, entered in relief, and worked four innings of one-run relief.

“I thought Jose did good tonight,” Mattingly said. “I thought he had good stuff, really the whole night. Really he was hanging in there the whole night.”

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.