Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuña was nearly hit on consecutive pitches, and eventually left the game after taking one on the hand.
Sam Coonrod clearly didn’t take too kindly to Acuña homering off of him in their last faceoff on April 11, or at least it would seem given the result on Saturday night. The Phillies did not order Coonrod to plunk Acuña, especially on the hand, but two pitches high and tight suggest an unfriendly nature to this relationship.
The Braves did not retaliate after the fact. This is not to say the Phillies’ intent wasn’t to perhaps scare Acuña off the plate, but pitching inside is the nature of the sport, especially to a player who dominates the outer half of the plate like Acuña. It doesn’t help matters that his stance tends to hover with a slight inside lean.
Acuña appeared to at least somewhat commit to the pitch which hit him, leading to the direct contact on his hand/wrist area.
There’s no evidence that Sam Coonrod hits Ronald Acuña on purpose
Coonrod could very well have been acting on his own agenda. He’s not exactly a shining example of baseball morality.
Nonetheless, it wouldn’t have made much sense for Coonrod to put Acuña on base in a close game, especially with Freddie Freeman lurking. Not to mention, this is supposedly a man who has turned his career around, becoming a vital piece to the Phillies’ bullpen. Drilling Acuña to get some sort of personal vengeance doesn’t fit that narrative.
Coonrod is far from the only pitcher to challenge Acuña that far inside. It’s about time the Braves start demanding more from opposing pitchers, or perhaps they’ll face the consequences. I’m no fan of the unwritten rules but going high and tight (twice) on a player of Acuña’s caliber typically evokes a response.
Acuña’s frequently ranks somewhere in the top-20 in HBP every season, and it’s not a strategy to get on-base. Crowding the plate is to his benefit. But by no means should the Braves stand by while arguably their most complete player is subject to the high and inside treatment.
Sunday’s game could get ugly, should the Braves choose.