Marlins’ Don Mattingly: Umps was’ bullied ‘into ejecting Pablo Lopez for hitting Ronald Acuna Jr.

The Marlins lost their starting pitcher after a pitch Friday night. Pablo Lopez was sent off for hitting the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. in the triceps with a 91 mph fastball to lead the bottom of the first inning.

But Lopez was only thrown out after the referees, led by team manager Dan Iassogna, conferred on the pitch. And they didn’t meet until after Braves manager Brian Snitker got out of the canoe to get a footing. Snitker was angry that another Marlins pitcher had planted his star outfielder. Acuna HBP’s count against Miami is now six in 55 games, including the playoffs.

“This is the third time they’ve hit him with the first pitch of the game. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I watched him too much,” Snitker told reporters, according to MLB.com.

The process left Marlins manager Don Mattingly thinking Snitker worked on the crew for the benefit of his team.

“Basically Dan was bullied,” Mattingly said during his post-match Zoom call with the media. “When it happened, no one said anything.”

Mattingly and Marlins pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. were sent off for arguing. Mattingly has said on several occasions that the crew “mismanaged” the situation.

“I am really disappointed with the referee team,” he said.

MORE: Acuna loved going deep against Urena in ’19

Braves TV analyst Tom Glavine also disagreed with the expulsion and asked why the referees need to consult.

“If you’re not going to (kick Lopez) right away, then why are you getting together and having a meeting?” said Glavine.

Mattingly and Lopez both said the pitch was unintentional. Lopez, in fact, grimaced after the pitch hit Acuna.

“It was just a poorly executed shot”, Lopez said. “The ball just ran instead and unfortunately he hit it. It’s not what you want on the first pitch of the night.”

After finally taking the first goal, Acuna came to score the game’s only point in a 1-0 victory in Atlanta.

He said through an interpreter after the match that previous plunkings had made him unsure whether it was intentional.

“Whether it is or not, that doesn’t matter to me. My only goal is for the team to win,” Acuna said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Mattingly said Iassogna told him the story was a factor in Lopez getting dumped. In August 2018, Jose Urena pierced Acuna in the left elbow with a 97 mph fastball to start a game, after Acuna hit the Marlins throwing hard in previous matches. Urena, like Lopez, was ejected after a throw. MLB then suspended Urena, who is now with the Tigers, for six games.

Mattingly was adamant that what happened on Friday had nothing to do with three years ago. He also tried to emphasize that the Braves are not innocent.

“There’s absolutely nothing going on this year with the Braves,” Mattingly said. “And when Dan tells me that because of the story and it always happens and it’s still Acuna, it just isn’t true. It’s not true. I’m pretty sure (the player of Miami third baseman) Brian Anderson has been hit six times since Acuna was hit. I think (shortstop Miguel Rojas has) maybe (been) hit that much. (Ex-Marlin) Pete O’Brien has a broken rib from (Braves pitcher Mike) Soroka, 100% on purpose (in 2019).

“It’s over, ’18 is over, and Dan tell me it’s a story, there has been a story in the past of a guy who isn’t even with us anymore.”

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