Acuña on HBP: 'They can't get me out'

October 7th, 2020

’s battles against the Marlins were extended after he hit yet another home run against them, then he was hit by yet another pitch in Game 1 of the National League Division Series on Tuesday afternoon at Minute Maid Park, a 9-5 Braves win.

Acuña became the youngest player to hit a leadoff homer in the postseason when he drilled a Sandy Alcantara fastball a projected 428 feet over the wall in right-center. The 22-year-old outfielder flipped his bat toward Atlanta's dugout as he began his home run trot.

When Acuña stepped to the plate again in the bottom of the third, he was hit in the left hip by Alcantara’s 97.5 mph fastball. Acuña gathered himself, took a few steps out of the box and was stopped by home-plate umpire Andy Fletcher as he seemingly told somebody in the Marlins' dugout that he would express his frustration civilly.

“I knew he didn’t hit him on purpose,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “With Acuña, he’s a guy that you got to ... You can’t just lay the ball out over the plate. Obviously, that ball, I looked at it, it was a good ways in. But he’s trying to run the ball off the plate there, or start it on the plate and run it off. And it got further off than he wanted, or further in than he wanted.”

Braves manager Brian Snitker was not happy the umpires issued warnings to both clubs. At the same time, he expressed the frustration that has built as the Marlins have hit Acuña far more frequently than any other team over the past few years.

“No, I don’t think he tried to hit him,” Snitker said. “I watched the replay. He didn’t just throw the ball at him. He tried to go in, and like I said, you have to be careful going in right after somebody hits a homer, because you might hit him. He better be good at going in, and not hitting him, after a homer.”

Acuña’s issues with the Marlins extend back to Aug. 15, 2018, when his bid to hit a leadoff homer in a fourth straight game was erased when he was hit by a José Ureña pitch. Both benches cleared, and Snitker had to be restrained as he tried to get to Ureña.

Acuña has now been hit five times over 206 plate appearances against the Marlins. That equates to once every 41.2 plate appearances. He has been hit 15 times in his other 1,200 career plate appearances, or once every 80.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence, just because every time we’ve played in a series, I’ve been the one who has been hit,” Acuña said through an interpreter. “But I’m not going to give it any thought. I’m just going to keep focusing on winning.”

Acuña did take some time to express his feelings about the matter on social media, saying on Twitter that the Marlins "have to hit me, because they don’t get me out."

Acuña also created an Instagram post that featured a picture of his homer and this message: “I’d like to take this time to apologize to absolutely NOBODY.”

“I really don’t have anything to say. I really don’t think I have anything to apologize for,” Acuña said when asked about the Instagram message.

He added, in English, “I just want to play.”

The Reds' Trevor Bauer also expressed his thoughts on the matter via Twitter, saying, "If Ronald Acuna Jr. hits an oppo homer off you that hits the second deck, he can bat flip all he wants and you just have to wear it. "

“I just tried to go inside against him, and I hit him,” Alcantara said. “I don’t know why they are always thinking every time we hit Acuña, it’s on purpose. We all the time try to pitch inside to him. We keep throwing inside to him, no matter what happens.”

As for what was said immediately after the HBP, Alcantara said, "He don’t say nothing, and I don’t say nothing, too. But like I say, if he’s ready to fight, I’m ready to fight, too."

It should be noted that Acuña has also had plenty of success against the Marlins. His leadoff homer was the 18th he's hit through his first 174 career at-bats against Miami (one every 9.7 at-bats).

After getting hit by Alcantara’s pitch during what became a key two-run inning, Acuña scored from first base on Marcell Ozuna’s double. His sprint speed was 30.0 feet per second, which is considered elite speed.

“I definitely feel I have the support of my teammates, no matter the situation,” Acuña said. “Obviously, we’ve been in this situation before where I’ve taken exception to being hit by a pitch. At this point, I feel we’ve grown accustomed to it. We’re tired of it. But I feel like there’s nothing we can do. Our focus remains on winning and moving forward.”