In his first game against Miami since being drilled on the first pitch Aug. 15, 20-year-old Braves phenom Ronald Acuna got his revenge with a 432-foot home run on Thursday.
Ronald Acuna didn’t have to wait long to take his revenge on the Miami Marlins.
Acuna, the Atlanta Braves’ 20-year-old rookie superstar, sent a hanging slider from Elieser Hernandez deep into the left field bleachers in the third inning on Thursday night for his 21st home run. This one was probably the sweetest, given what happened the last time these two teams met.
Acuna had homered in five straight games going into a game against Miami on Aug. 15. In an attempt to send a message to the rookie slugger, Marlins pitcher Jose Urena hit him with the first pitch he threw. Urena was ejected and later suspended six games.
The 432-foot blast on Thursday left more than a symbolic mark on Miami, damaging part of the wall in Marlins Park. Acuna let off how much this one meant to him by flipping his bat before rounding the bases.
“It felt good to go out there and be able to do that,” he said through an interpreter after the game. “Like I previously said, all the hits that have happened between us, I’m not focused on that. I’m focused on us.”
The drama between Acuna and the Marlins didn’t end there, however. In the sixth inning, on a 0-2 pitch, Javy Guerra drilled Acuna again with an inside fastball. Acuna was visibly frustrated before taking his spot at first base.
Braves manager Brian Snitker says he is proud of his young star for not letting his emotions get the better of him in that situation. “I’d be angry, too,” Snitker said after the game. “He did exactly what he should’ve done, went to first.”
“It wasn’t so much being frustrated,” Acuna said. “It was more upset, I guess, because I felt like I had gotten hit at home already then i got hit again today. But after that happened, like I said before, we’re not focused on that or anything going on. We’re focused on winning.”
Atlanta (72-55) has done a lot of winning this season. Sean Newcomb pitched six shutout innings, giving up just two hits and striking out eight in the Braves’ 5-0 win over the Marlins. They now lead the Philadelphia Phillies by three games in the NL East.
A good part of their success is due to Acuna. He is now batting .286 this season with 45 RBI. His 21 homers leads all rookies, breaking a tie with San Diego’s Christian Villanueva and the Yankees’ Miguel Andujar. Acuna has terrorized the Marlins, hitting .333 with seven homers against the Braves’ division rivals this year.
He’ll get another shot at them with the second game of a four-game series on Friday.