Mark Faller and Rick Morin discuss Marlins pitcher Jose Urena intentional fastball to injure rookie Roland Acuna.
Diana Payan, The Republic |

Miami Marlins right-hander Jose Ureña wasted no time in letting his intentions be known.

After his team was the victim of three consecutive leadoff home runs by Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., Ureña drilled the 20-year-old with a 97 mph fastball on the first pitch he threw.

A fourth leadoff home run would have put Acuña in a tie for the MLB record. Instead, he was sent to the ground in pain and forced to leave the game.

It was immediately clear to most in attendance that Ureña had purposely hit Acuña, who was removed from the game with an elbow injury. It was revealed Wednesday night that a CT scan came back negative and that Acuña is listed as day-to-day.

Still, the Braves’ dugout did not take kindly to the plunking, and the benches promptly cleared.

Ureña was ejected after throwing one pitch, making him the fourth pitcher since 1920 to hit the only batter he faced in a game. All four were ejected.

“When we go out to the game, we take each game as it presents itself,” crew chief Paul Nauert told a pool reporter after the game. “Today, the first pitch hits the kid the first time up. I think from what has transpired over the past three days, the crew felt that it was intentional. So, the action we took was to eject him.”

Some assume Ureña’s motivation to be the celebrations that Acuña has recently adopted after a home run, including but not limited to eccentric bat flips.

But does that, as well as the fact that Acuña has hit homers in five straight games (all of which have come in his first at bat of a game), warrant an intentional hit-by-pitch?

Former big-league first baseman Keith Hernandez, who serves as an analyst on New York Mets broadcasts, certainly thinks so.

“They’re killing you. You lost three games. He’s hit three home runs. You gotta hit him,” Hernandez said during Wednesday’s Mets game in Baltimore. “I’m sorry, people aren’t going to like that. You know, you gotta hit him, knock him down. I mean, seriously knock him down if you don’t hit him. You never throw at anybody’s head or neck. You hit him in the back. You hit him in the fanny.”

As one can imagine, Hernandez’s comments cleared the proverbial benches of Twitter and many jumped in to voice their opinions.

Chief among them was former Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame last month.

In defense of Ureña, Marlins manager Don Mattingly said the right-hander routinely throws his first pitch of a respective game to that location.

“If you watch Jose pitch, every first pitch of every game is pretty much there,” Mattingly told Atlanta media after the game. “We talked to Jose after the game. He’s saying he knows the guy had been swinging the bat good and he tried to get one close, run it in there, and that was the purpose of his pitch.”

One user on Twitter decided to find out, and it doesn’t seem as though Mattingly’s theory holds much water.

It remains to be seen whether Ureña will be suspended for the incident, but the Braves and manager Brian Snitker did not retaliate in the game.

However, Snitker was incensed by the incident and was also ejected for his actions (and supposed verbiage) toward the umpires when the benches cleared.

But when Acuña does return, he will still have a chance at history since his lone plate appearance on Wednesday did not count as an official at bat.