A day after he was forced to a leave a game after being intentionally hit with the first pitch of the game, Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves stepped up to lead off the bottom of the first inning of his team’s game against the Colorado Rockies and lined a single to left center, extending his hitting streak to nine games.
For good measure, Acuna then stole second base. Unfortunately for Acuna, that was his only hit of the day, which ended his franchise-tying streak after homering in five consecutive games. He finished 1 for 4 in Atlanta’s 5-3 loss to Colorado.
That Acuna was even on the field was somewhat surprising after he had been hit in the elbow with a 97.5-miles-per-hour fastball by Jose Urena of the Miami Marlins on Wednesday. Acuna left the game shortly after being hit, but was cleared for action after an X-ray exam and a CT scan showed no damage. The team had described him as day-to-day, but it was announced shortly before Thursday’s game that he would be starting.
“Obviously, it was kind of a hard hit,” Acuna told reporters through a translator after taking an early session of batting practice at SunTrust Park. “But I’m not feeling any pain and I feel good right now.”
Urena claimed after Wednesday’s game that the pitch had simply gotten away from him, but Major League Baseball disagreed, handing down a six-game suspension for the pitcher and describing the pitch as intentional. Eric Young, the Braves’ first base coach, was also suspended one game for his part in the benches-clearing argument following the pitch.
Thanks to M.L.B.’s rule 9.23, Acuna came into Thursday’s game with his hitting streak, and his home run streak, intact, since hitting streaks cannot be ended in a game in which a batter is hit or walked in each plate appearance. The end of the home run streak on Thursday left him tied with Brian McCann for the franchise record.