Miami’s Jose Urena will make his season debut when the Marlins (17-18) open a three-game series in Atlanta (24-16) on Monday. And the first guy he likely will face is Ronald Acuna Jr., a pitcher-hitter rematch certain to stir memories of an incident between the two that resurfaces whenever the teams meet.
On Aug. 15, 2018, then-rookie Acuna had led off three straight games with homers and had gone deep five games in a row. Urena threw the first pitch inside and hit Acuna on the left elbow, setting off a melee that led to the ejection of Urena and Braves manager Brian Snitker.
Atlanta got revenge on May 3, 2019, when Kevin Gausman evened the score by throwing a fastball knee high behind Urena. Gausman was ejected, and that seemed to settle the score.
Urena faced the Braves one more time in 2019, on June 7, without incident and gave up six runs on 11 hits — one of them a homer by Acuna — in three innings in Atlanta’s 7-1 victory.
On Monday, Urena will oppose Atlanta rookie Ian Anderson (2-0, 2.25).
Urena has been on the injured list since testing positive for COVID-19 in late July. He has been working out at the team’s alternate site since Aug. 15 and was activated to fill the spot in the rotation left vacant by the season-ending injury to Elieser Hernandez.
“That (inactivity) was tough,” Urena said. “We couldn’t do anything.”
Urena said he threw three simulated games over the past two weeks and has built his arm strength to handle 80-plus pitches.
Acuna, Urena’s nemesis, has been on a roll. He’s hit eight of his nine home runs in the past 12 games and set a franchise record with his 18th career leadoff homer over the weekend.
“That’s a talent that is not going to come around too often,” Atlanta first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “That’s a once-in-a-generation kind of talent.”
Anderson, 22, Atlanta’s No. 1 pitching prospect, has exceeded expectations since his arrival. He made his major league debut by beating the Yankees on Aug. 26 and followed it with a Sept. 1 win over the Boston Red Sox, the team he idolized growing up. Anderson joined Cleveland’s Luis Tiant (1964) as the only other major leaguer to open his career with wins over the Yankees and Red Sox in his first two starts.
Anderson pitched six innings and allowed two runs on six hits, one walk and eight strikeouts in his last start against Boston. He joined Max Fried as the only Atlanta starter with two six-inning appearances.
The Marlins will be without outfielder Harold Ramirez, who went on the injured list Sunday because of a left-hamstring strain. Miami already is short on outfielders; Garrett Cooper has taken time off with a sore quad but pinch-hit on Sunday.
The Braves, who lead the NL East, are coming off a four-game series split against Washington and have won six of their past 10. The Marlins have lost three of their past four and seven of their past 10 games. Miami enters the series in third place, 4 1/2 games behind the Braves and 1 1/2 behind Philadelphia.
Atlanta won two of three against Miami when the teams played in August.
–Field Level Media