Marlins bothered by Acuña's high slide

October 8th, 2020

Ronald Acuña Jr. getting hit by a 97.5 mph sinker in the third inning and the emotional aftermath weren’t the only hot-button takeaways from the Marlins’ 9-5 loss to the Braves in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.

A sore subject with the Marlins that didn’t come to light after Tuesday’s game was addressed before Wednesday's 2-0 loss in Game 2 of the best-of-five series at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

The Marlins took issue with Acuña's high slide that spiked shortstop above the right knee in the six-run seventh inning.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly called the play “dirty.”

“Well, if you get spiked above the knee, I’d call it dirty,” Mattingly said. “Maybe 15 years ago, you blow that guy up [at second base] and nobody says a word and everybody expects it. But in today’s game, if you spike a guy above the knee, I think you call that dirty.”

The incident occurred in the seventh inning with Acuña on first base. Freddie Freeman bounced a grounder to second baseman , who turned and threw to Rojas at second for the forceout. Acuña went in hard and elevated his right foot, catching the Miami shortstop with his spikes.

“Again, it’s just baseball,” Mattingly said. “He started sliding hard. I think everything is good with the slide until he throws a spike above the knee.”

There’s certainly history between the Marlins and Acuña dating back to his rookie season in 2018. The Braves slugger has been hit five times by Miami pitchers. In the regular season, he has been plunked four times in 204 plate appearances.

The Marlins contend that Rojas also has been hit five times by the Braves in that span, including Tuesday. Like Acuña, Rojas homered in Game 1. In 127 plate appearances in the regular season, Rojas has been hit four times.

Topping them both is Marlins third baseman , who entered Wednesday with six hit-by-pitches in 186 regular-season plate appearances against the Braves since 2018. He was hit again during the sixth inning by reliever Darren O'Day.

“The other reality in the same timeframe is that [Acuña] has been hit five times, and Brian Anderson has been hit six,” Mattingly said. “[Anderson] hasn't said a word about it. He doesn't make a big deal out of it.”

Acuña struck out four times in Game 2, thrice against and once against .

Coach Cervelli?
Catcher , who announced his retirement Saturday after 13 MLB seasons, may have a long-term future with the Marlins.

A few days ago, Mattingly volunteered that Cervelli may have a future in coaching.

The 34-year-old, who signed with Miami in January, suffered a season-ending concussion in August. Cervelli missed substantial time the past four seasons due to concussions.

"Definitely going to miss him, and I've only been with him for a few months, but I'm actually happy for Cervi," Mattingly said. "Don't take any more punishment back there. We don't need any more hits or concussions. He's had a great career.

“Hopefully, he will be part of what we're doing going forward. I think he's going to be. He'd be a guy that would be great to be on a coaching staff moving forward at some point. I think he's got a lot to offer to the catching side of that, calling a game and the feel for the game. Passing that along would be huge."

Marlins infielder previously played with Cervelli with the Pirates from 2015-18. Rodríguez calls Cervelli a mentor and an inspiration. Rodríguez also feels Cervelli would excel as a coach or in any capacity with an MLB organization.

“He’s got an infectious personality,” Rodríguez said. “I think anything he chooses to partake in or venture off in, he’s going to excel. He just has that personality where he wants to succeed in anything that he does.”